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The Birth of Cheeky Baby

On March 10, 2010, I went into labor with Addison, being technically one week past her “due” date of March 3rd. The day was pretty normal, just me and Haden hanging out, while Daddy was at work. We did a lot of dancing that day. In the afternoon we laid down to watch a movie and take a nap. I woke up from my nap at 4:20 in the afternoon, having a contraction. I didn’t really pay it much mind, because I’d been having contractions here and there for the past few weeks.

I decided to get up to start working on making dinner, which was a big pot of homemade minestrone soup. I turned back on the radio. Throughout making dinner the contractions kept coming, what seemed like about every five minutes or so. I never did time any of them though, so I’m just guessing. I just danced during them, trying not to pay to much attention, because I wasn’t really sure I was in labor. At some point Haden woke up, and was hanging out with me while I cooked. Then, Michael called to say he was on his way home. I told him that I didn’t want him to get too excited, but I thought that I might be in labor.

Michael got home at around six, and we all sat down to eat. They were still coming what seemed like every few minutes; Michael was sure I was in labor, but I still wasn’t convinced. He decided to go to the chiropractor as he had originally planned, so he left, I started cleaning up from dinner, and straightening up the house. At some point after he left, contractions started to get stronger. I decided to call him to see how much longer he would be, I wanted him home with me. He told me I should call my mom to come pick Haden up, which I decided to do even though at that point I still had my doubts about it being the real deal. After that I didn’t really like doing anything else around the house. I didn’t want to be upright during them anymore, so every time I had one, I would get down onto my hands and knees. Haden kept trying to comfort me during them by giving me hugs, and telling me it was going to be okay. He’s such a sweet boy, and a great doula!

Michael got back, saw me, pulled out the birth pool, and started getting it ready. Not long after that my mom showed up to get Haden. They were already a little bit stronger then, and I wanted to be more vocal during them. After they left, things seemed to speed up. I went into the bedroom, and kept getting on the bed on hands and knees for them. Then, I made a pallet with pillows to lean on. They kept getting more intense and I kept getting more vocal, moaning through them. Michael started taking breaks from trying to get everything set up so that he could be with me during the contractions. He turned on some music for me, and started burning some essential oils, setting the mood. 😉 It was really nice and helped me start relaxing more.

Contractions were very intense, and I remember Michael being behind me with his pelvis pressed into my butt, while he leaned over me, with his arms wrapped around me, so that he could hold my belly, where all the tension was during contraction. He would help me sway my hips back and forth, talking me through it. It felt like a cross between dancing and making love, and I remember thinking how sexual it felt. In between contractions I joked that if we had been in a hospital right then, we probably would have given some of the staff a heart attach. Then again, if we had been in a hospital, we probably never would have been doing that in the first place.

I told Michael I had to have the water. I just knew I needed to be there, because nothing else was going to make me feel better. He worked on filling the tub up for me, and as soon as it was full enough for me I jumped in. As soon as I hit the water, I felt relieved. Just… more right. I told Michael that women having babies were meant to be in the water. I remember thinking that I didn’t know how women could give birth unmedicated without water, even though I have seen many of them do it. Things picked up even more once I was in the water, to the point were I thought that pain was way more than what I had expected, and I thought I must be insane. Why didn’t I just go to the hospital for an epidural like everyone else? I could be laid back feeling nothing, which at that moment sounded like a good thing.

In between contractions Michael was rubbing my hair, and giving me soft kisses on my face. It was so relaxing; between the contractions I could almost completely forget that I was in labor at all, I was like mush, but then I would get slammed again. The sensations were so extreme, it felt like a life force trying to split me apart. I kept thinking that if I weren’t close to the end, I didn’t know if I would make it. During one contraction Michael kissed and nibbled on my ear, then my neck and the contraction was like an explosion going through my body. I remember fussing at him, accusing him of making them stronger. It was so strong it made me nauseous, and when it was over I told Michael that I was going to throw up, to get me a bowl. And I did. Up came my homemade minestrone soup. Eww.

The taste in my mouth was so gross that I forced myself to get out of the pool to go brush my teeth, because I knew the taste was going to be too distracting. I had a couple of really sucky contractions in the bathroom, and hurried back to the pool as quick as I could. After that they only got more intense. I wanted to cry and give up. I kept telling Michael that I couldn’t do it anymore, and he would tell me I could; I knew that I could. There was so much pressure, I just wanted to fight against it. I said out loud that I needed to quit fighting it. I tried to keep my body as loose as was possible and just kept going. The pressure was finally so much that I had to do something about it, so I pushed without ever actually consciously deciding too. And it felt good! Well, compared to what it felt like before.

 

When I told Michael, he said that if it felt good I should keep pushing during them, and just listen to my body. The “mind” of me was debating in my head about this, thinking that I hadn’t been in labor very long, and that if I wasn’t dilated all the way pushing against my cervix could be bad (Always trust your instincts & your bodies urges!). I decided to get out of my head, listen to my body and Michael, and pushed during the contractions. I think I pushed during two more and then I felt her. I put my finger inside me, and I could feel her head! My bag hadn’t broke, so I could feel the membrane, and water moving back and forth as I moved my fingers; when I pressed harder I could feel the firmness of her head. I was so excited. I told Michael it would be very cool is she was born in the caul, but during the next contraction the bag broke as I was pushing. Michael has that contraction on video, and when it happened I said, “I broke.”

My excitement was short lived, because the contraction after that, I pushed, which it brought her right down to crowning. There was no one step forward, two steps back. Her head was pushing on my tissues with such a force that it was almost unbearable. I wanted to not push because of the pain, and at the same time I had no choice. I could see her head, everything stretching, and I though for sure that I would just split open, that all my vaginal tissues were just going to rip and tear. I used my fingers help stretch the tissues, but I didn’t feel like it was doing any good. I tried changing positions, hoping that she might slide back up or something. I told Michael that it hurt so bad and that I just wanted to push her back up inside; I clenched my legs together trying to will her to slid up some, but it didn’t work.

I got back into knelling position and then during the next contraction I just put all my force into trying to bring her out. I roared during the contraction. Literally. I had to roar. I needed its force to get through the contraction, to push with all my might and it worked. Her head came out. OMG, what a relief. I felt like crying, maybe I did. I can’t be sure. I just kept touching her head, amazed that she was almost there, and then with the next contraction I pushed, and she slid the rest of the way out. I grabbed her, and pulled her onto my chest. I was ecstatic. I kept saying, “She’s perfect. She’s perfect.” She was pink, screaming and perfect. Then I thought to lift her up, and actually verify she was a girl. Of course she was, we knew she was a girl.

It’s funny that my birth went nothing like I had thought that it would. I am apparently not an earthy birthy, make it look serene type of birther. It was gritty and loud. I moaned, I thrashed, I cried and I whined. It was beautiful and intense and scary. And I was a warrior, like we all are.

Addison Lynn Bowden was born on March 10, 2010 at 9:40pm after approx. 5 hours and 20 minutes of labor. She weighed 9 lbs. 1 oz. & measured 18 inches long.

 

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The Birth of Doodle Boy

During my pregnancy with Haden, I knew very little about childbirth, and watched just enough Baby Story to keep me terrified of the process. I, like many women, gave myself completely over to my doctor, believing that anything that I really needed to know, my doctor would tell me. It has been three years since his birth, so I know of the finer details will be lost here, but I wanted to try my best to write down the things I do remember.

On September 22, 2006, after a late night trek to a gas station, and a king size Snickers for my belly, my husband and I laid down in the bed to get some sleep. Around midnight, I started having noticeable contractions. We stayed in bed timing the contractions from the very first one, to be sure I was actually in labor, and did this for an hour. During that time I started having bloody show. Contractions were coming every five to six minutes, and had been like that since I first noticed them. Since my doctor had said we should go to the hospital when contraction were coming every five minutes for an hour, we got right out of bed to get ready for the hospital.

I did some cleaning around the house because I wanted to come home to prettiness, and Michael ran around trying to make sure we had everything packed. Contractions were very mild at the time, pretty much like strong period cramps, but nothing as bad as I had felt before; during my high school years, I had a period of time where I suffered very severe period cramps that would sometimes cause vomiting. I was okay with taking my time leaving, but Michael really wanted to leave, so we headed out to the hospital at three in the morning.

The ride was slightly uncomfortable, and I was glad to get out of the car. We went inside, and sat down at the admissions desk to take care of things there. Then, we headed upstairs, and went into triage, where I was asked a series of annoying questions, then had my cervix checked where I was found to be at 2 cm. This might have been more exciting if I hadn’t already been two cm for the past two weeks. They would not admit me, so I was told to go walk the halls for an hour, and then come back to be checked again.

So we walked, walked and walked some more, in circles around the L & D floor. Contractions were a bit stronger then; I would stop walking during them, lean down and brace myself on my knees, Michael or the wall. As soon as we hit the hour mark I headed straight back to triage and was checked again. Almost three cm. Close enough they said, and decided to go ahead and admit me. That was when I received my first epidural offer. I declined, saying I would wait a bit longer because I didn’t really feel like I needed one then.

I was moved to my room, hooked up to monitors and an IV. From that point I kind of felt like I should be in the bed, since I was hooked up and it was right there. So I sat down in the bed, taylor sitting. My nurse offered me the epidural again before she left the room. I declined. Again. Contractions seemed to be getting more uncomfortable. I chatted with my parents and Michael in between them, still sitting in the bed. The nurse came in to check me again; I was four cm. That is when I received my third offer for an epidural, which I decided to accept. I was becoming more uncomfortable, with no clue what to do about it, Michael looked really tired (I felt pretty tired myself), and I figured they were just gonna keep asking me about it until I did, so I might as well.

It was 6:00 am when the anesthesiologist was called. It didn’t seem to take very long for him to get there. I was super nervous about getting it; I almost wanted to cry because I really didn’t like the idea of a very big needle being put in my spine. I leaned over like they asked, squeezed Michael’s hands, anticipating the terrible pain I was sure to feel when they stuck me, but I never did feel anything. It was done.

My parents left after that; Michael and I decided to lay down to get some sleep. As the medication began to take affect, my entire lower half went completely dead, I couldn’t move my legs at all. I started to feel shaky, nauseous, and just… not right. I felt drugged. After a bit those feelings subsided some, and I was able to fall asleep, but it was incredibly patchy. I kept waking up every time the nurse would come into the room, then I would doze back off.

At some point the nurse came into the room, which woke me up. I heard her doing something right next to me, so I rolled my head over, opened my eyes to see her putting something in my IV. I asked her what she was doing, and she told me she was just giving me a little bit of Pitocin. I nodded, closed my eyes, and went back to sleep. I’m sure somewhere in all that my cervix was checked again, but I don’t really remember.

Later, we woke up and my family came back. Hanging out… hanging out… water broke! Pop! It felt like someone uncorked me. Another cervical check, and I am eight cm.

They start setting the room up for delivery, and I began to feel really excited knowing that I will have my baby soon. At around 11:30 pm I was checked again. I am ten cm! The nurse tells me I can start pushing, and calls for my doctor. From that point my legs were pushed back, while I was told to hold my breath for a count of ten while pushing. The nurse is “oh so helpful” by counting very loudly while I’m doing it, and telling me what to do with each push.

Eventually the doctor showed up, and got down between my legs to watch my progress. Haden’s head is crowning, right there, and then going back up. Over and over again. I can’t quite seem to get him to come out, and it probably didn’t help that I couldn’t feel a thing. Apparently, my doctor had somewhere important to be, and didn’t think I was moving things along fast enough since I had been pushing for almost an hour and a half, so he decided to give me an episiotomy. I wasn’t told this was going to happen, I didn’t even see it happening, but I felt it. When he cut me I could feel the pressure of it, my tissues coming apart. A couple more pushes and his head came out, followed by his body.

They put him on my chest and I felt… transformed. I was a mother. I hadn’t felt that while I was pregnant. Not really. It was consuming and awe-inspiring, the depth of my emotions. I was crying from my happiness… and then they took him away. After about five seconds of being skin to skin with me, they snatched him off me, and took him over to the baby warmer to perform all those “very important” newborn procedures.

I kept crying, asking them how long it was going to take, and they kept telling me not long. Every instinct in my body just wanted him back with me, because that was where he belonged. It felt like an eternity before he was finally given back to me. That was probably the most miserable fifteen minutes of my life. As soon as I had him in my arms, I put him straight to my breast, and he latched right on. He was always a very enthusiastic nurser. 😉 Our breastfeeding relationship would be my first step towards becoming an educated, and more thoughtful mother.

Haden Charles Bowden was born on September 23, 2006 at 12:49 pm after almost 13 hours of labor. He weighed 8 lbs. 11 oz. & was 21 inches long.

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These Dog Days are Over

I admit it. I’ve lost it. “The Spark” that I thought I had back, lasted all of a minute, and then it was gone again. I actually spent my afternoon packing up all of my “birthy” things, teachings aids, curriculum, continuing education notebooks, and videos. Now it is all nicely stacked up in my storage closet, awaiting the day when I will decide what to do with it all.

I have been desperately clinging to my old self, the one that lived and breathed birth. I knew what I wanted, and where I was going. I had all these goals, accomplishments, but most importantly I felt like I had a purpose. I know that what you do doesn’t define who you are, and I can say that to myself, and believe it. It is a logical statement. Yet, I can’t help the way that I feel, and how I feel is… Completely lost.

I see the enthusiasm in some of my friends that are just starting on their path, and I see myself in them. I miss that feeling, the excitement of it, and I envy them for it. Everything that I have been struggling with has left me feeling disconnected from my old life, and I am not quite sure how to bridge the gap, or even if I should. When I decided to write my essay “Numbed Bliss or Agonizing Pain?” I hoped that it might jazz me up, make me feel something, but it really only solidified my overall feelings as of late.

I don’t know where I am going, or what it is that I want to do. My sense of control is feeling seriously screwed with, and anyone who knows me, knows that this is a big problem for me. I have been floundering in my attempts to try and pull myself out of this. What I really need is to reach a place of acceptance with myself. To accept that I am still a growing person, and let myself be okay with that fact. I need to not be afraid of all the unknowns in front of me, and to allow myself to be patient, because there is no need to hurry ahead.

It is time to move forward, whatever that means. I *think* that for me it means, trying to enjoy all the stuff in the middle, instead of trying to skip to the end.

So, I guess the point of this blog is that I still don’t know what I want to fucking be when I grow up.

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Numbed Bliss or Agonizing Pain?

My fourth essay for class, a compare and contrast essay. I made an 88 on it. 🙂

 

Numbed Bliss or Agonizing Pain?

Anyone who enjoys watching television for entertainment has likely viewed a dramatic birth scene, like the one in the movie, Nine Months. Julianne Moore’s character, Rebecca, is about to have dinner when her water suddenly breaks in the restaurant, “Honey! My water broke!” Panic then ensues; there is the rush to the hospital, in which her husband Samuel, played by Hugh Grant, is driving extremely recklessly. Rebecca is already having strong contractions, in severe pain, and stressed out. She is rushed on a gurney through the hospital, screaming in agony, and in agitation at anyone who talks to her. Samuel yells at the doctor, “Can’t you give her something for the pain??!!”

Rebecca never does get her much wanted epidural (Columbus). Granted, the scene is a mixture of drama and hilarity, but this is a reflection of our birth culture, and is fundamentally a contributing factor to our opinions and perceptions surrounding birth. However, there are more points to consider in regards to pain management for labor and birth; it is not just a simplistic choice between numbed bliss and agonizing pain.

We live in a society where it is very beneficial as consumers to investigate the options available to us. When it comes to deciding what you want during your birth, it is important to know the positives and the negatives of the choices that you have. Then, with all the information available, you can make the best choices suited for you. This is also what is known as informed consent.

Natural birth, for my purpose, is defined as birth without pain medication being used during the course of labor. There are numerous ways for women laboring without medication to gain relief from their contractions. These techniques can include massages, movement, positional changes, and being submerged in water. Simple things like dim lighting, music, focused breathing, and even prayer can be comforting (Kitzinger 189-225). Possibly the most effective comfort measure a woman can have during a natural labor is being surrounded by supportive people. A doula, which is a labor support person that is trained to help laboring women on a physical and emotional level, is a terrific addition to a woman’s support team; regardless if they are having a medicated birth or an unmedicated one.

Other than the obvious benefits of being able to avoid the risks of medication by choosing to have a natural birth, there are actually several others that don’t usually get much consideration. Pain during birth, is pain with a purpose. It tells you what you need to do to birth your baby. The sensations of labor are a guide, which promotes you to move in ways that will help your labor progress and move your baby into a more optimal position for birth (Goer 138). Women that give birth naturally are statistically more likely to have an easier recovery after birth, and are less likely to need many commonly used, risky interventions such as forceps, vacuum extraction, and cesarean section (“Promoting Pregnancy Wellness”).

The downside to natural labor is that you will feel it. All of it! For some women this negative will outweigh all others, but not every woman considers this to be a bad thing. It is important to change the context of how we think about labor pain. The experience of childbirth is hard to compare to anything else that we do in life, but it does not necessarily equate to suffering (Goer 139). It is a pain that only lasts for the duration of your labor, and culminates with the birth of your child. It comes and goes, giving you the opportunity to rest during this time. Labor does not normally begin excruciatingly painful; it progresses and builds, becoming stronger as the birth becomes more imminent, while our body supplies us with a hormonal cocktail designed specifically for helping us go through labor.

This is an image of mom laboring in water with support of her doula and son.

From Kitzinger, Shelia. The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth.

4th ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 299. Print.

Epidurals are the most commonly used form of pain medication amongst laboring women; about 76% of all births take place with the use of an epidural (Declercq, Sakala, Corry, and Applebaum). This is because they offer the promise of taking the pain of childbirth completely away. Epidurals are injected into the outer membrane of the spinal cord, where a small plastic tube is left in place, which continuously drips medication (Kitzinger 310). Epidurals have a numbing effect on women throughout their torso and pelvis, so that they do not feel their contractions, but in some cases it may cause no feeling in a woman’s entire lower half of her body.

Image from Goer, Henci. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth.

1st ed. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 1999. 130. Print.

 

The majority of the time epidurals will give mothers what they most want, which is the ability to feel none of the pain, and stay alert and coherent during the birth of their child. However, in about 15% of women, epidurals will not remove all pain, at which point it can be harder for some women to cope with the pain of labor due to their inability to move (Declercq, Sakala, Corry, and Applebaum). Epidurals can be especially helpful in long, hard labors, and seem to promote dilation in labors where women are fearful, stressed out, exhausted, or may not be able to relax; these can all contribute to stalling the progression of labor.

Ironically, one of the more common risks of epidural use is the slowing of labor, which generally happens when an epidural is given too early in labor, before good contraction patterns have been established. This results in the use of a drug called Pitocin to help speed up labor (Goer 132 -34). Pitocin is a synthetic drug meant to produce effects similar to the hormone Oxytocin, which is the hormone our bodies naturally produce during labor that cause contractions. However, it does not mimic our body’s natural contractions. Pitocin contractions tend to be much stronger, longer, and closer together. This can interfere with the oxygen supply that baby receives through mom’s placenta and can cause distress in the baby (Goer 133).

 

This is an image of a mom laboring with an epidural.

From Kitzinger, Shelia. The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth.

4th ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 341. Print.

 

Monetarily, the cost of a medicated birth will cost more than a natural birth. The estimated cost of an epidural can range from $1000 and up, which includes hospital, and anesthesiologist fees (Mathews). Then, there are the potential costs of associated complications from epidurals that can make that amount still higher (Atherton, Feeg, and El-Adham). Planning for a natural birth raises the odds of saving on costs, but birth is not something that always goes as planned, so these incurred costs cannot always be avoided.

Birth is a momentous time in the lives of a family and nothing will affect you so profoundly as the birth of your children. While, how you give birth doesn’t define you as a mother, it can sometimes affect how you feel about motherhood and yourself. Traumatic birth is something that is very prevalent in our society, is experienced by women on both sides of the spectrum, and can put a mother lead at higher risk for postpartum mood disorders. Women that have experienced both a medicated and unmedicated birth will vary in their feelings about each.

Some women feel that their epidurals made them feel like bystanders in their birth, cut off from the experience, and lacking in control. As if their birth was something done to them, not something that they actively did themselves. Women who have birthed naturally may feel like their birth was empowering, something that they accomplished; that their birth brought them closer to their partner, and that as a mother it left them confident that they could do anything (Iorillo). Others feel more of a sense of control from their epidurals; having no painful memories associated with the experience of birthing their child, made the experience a more positive one.

The potential risks associated with epidurals that I have mentioned really only scratch the surface of what is actually a much longer list. However, for some women who do not know what to expect during labor, are unprepared for coping with labor, or that really don’t want to experience a natural labor, an epidural may be the best option for them. Women that worry about the risks related to medicated birth, and want to have a less medicalized experience would be better suited to a natural birth.

It is essential to remember that birth is as unique as the person experiencing it, and that despite what plans you may have for your birth, these may always change in the moment. It is best to be prepared for all possible paths that might be followed; an exceptional way to do this is by taking an independent childbirth class. There is nothing more inspiring than a woman’s ability to give life and love. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to give birth, just the best way for you.

Works Cited

Atherton, Martin J., Veronica Decarolis Feeg, and Azza Fouad El-Adham. “Race, Ethnicity, and Insurance as Determinants of Epidural Use: Discussion.” Medscape Today. Jannetti Publications, Inc, 2004. Web. 4 Feb 2012.

Columbus, Chris, dir. Nine Months. Perf. Huge Grant, and Julianne Moore . 20th Century Fox, 1995. Film.

Declercq, Eugene R., Carol Sakala, Maureen P. Corry, and Sandra Applebaum. “Listening to Mothers II.” Report of the Second National U.S. Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences. Childbirth Connection, 10 2006. Web. 3 Feb 2012.

. “Epidural Anesthesia.” Promoting Pregnancy Wellness. American Pregnancy Association, n.d. Web. 3 Feb 2012.

Goer, Henci. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth. 1st ed. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 1999. 132 -39. Print.

Iorillo, Maria, prod. It’s My Body, My Baby, My Birth. Stormproof Filmz, 2007. DVD.

Kitzinger, Shelia. The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth. 4th ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 189-310. Print.

Mathews, Anna. “Tallying the Cost to Bring Baby Home.” The Wallstreet Journal. N.p., 2009. Web. 4 Feb 2012.

 

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Tit Terrorists?

Breastfeeding Nazis. Being called superior, condescending and judgmental. These are just some of the not-so-nice things I have heard said about lactavists.

I have counted myself amongst lactavists for the past 4 years. In the beginning, my first thoughts when hearing those kinds of insults about lactavists were defensive ones. People that would say that about lacatvists obviously don’t understand. They don’t understand that we are coming from a place of passion! If they really knew what I KNOW then they would feel the same way I feel. Blame it on ignorance, because we all know that if every woman were as smart as me, then they would obviously think exactly the way I do. (Sarcasm) I say that sarcastically now, but there was a time where I really felt that way.

Some people might assume that those kinds of remarks would come only from women that are hard-core promoters of formula feeding. The mothers who formula fed all their children and firmly believe that there is no notable differences between the two. I have been noticing though, that that doesn’t alway seem to be the case. There are many women that support breastfeeding, have breastfed their children or are currently breastfeeding their children, that don’t have positive feelings towards lactavists and wouldn’t want to count themselves amongst them.

Why is that?

Recent events have shown an upsurge on Facebook amongst  lacatavists , posting about the horrors of formula feeding. I really have to take a moment to thank a friend of mine. Reading her blog this past year about her trials, her thoughts & feelings about a breastfeeding relationship she had originally wanted and ended up not having and the emotions she has felt through it all, has gone a long way to opening my eyes about the WAY we talk about breastfeeding and the profound effect that it can have on all different types of women.

 

These ads were created to demand honesty in formula advertising. Who is the demand being made to though? Are formula companies seeing these ads? Or just thousands of mothers across the internet? False advertising isn’t a new idea. Check out most items on any given shelf in your grocery store and you will see some. If we want there to be more honesty in advertising, is this the most productive way to try and achieve it?

Is this about educating mothers? Pretend for a second that you are a mother who doesn’t know about the awesomeness of your breasts and how amazing breastfeeding is… yadayadayada. What would you think if you saw this posted somewhere? Do you feel educated after reading it?

Does it strike you as condescending? Or would it?

This is the ingredients off of the back of a formula can. So, what if this were captioned along the lines, “Another baby died from formula this week. Crap in a can.”?

So, what does that make mothers feel? To read that? For us breastfeeding mothers, it surely makes us feel even more awesome and superior for our choice to do “what is best for our baby”. What about every other mother out there?

Do we care?

I love breastfeeding. I breastfed my son until he was a few months shy of 4. Those last 3 months for him, he was tandem nursing with his sister, who is still nursing at 22 months. I probably have quite a bit more nursing to look forward too. I think that it is important for women to breastfeed in public so that other women can see it. The more often it is seen, the more it will seem less of an oddity. I think sharing the positives about breastfeeding is important. There are so many. I just also think that the way that we approach talking about breastfeeding and formula feeding should be and can be done in a more thoughtful and considerate way.

Think… COMPASSION. Because at the end of the day you can’t force women to think the way you do. You can’t strong arm them into it. You can’t treat them like they are stupid in hopes that they will believe it and then want to be “smarter”. Just like you. And many of them do know what you know. Maybe they made a different choice or they didn’t really HAVE a choice.

Obviously, not all women will be offended by those kinds of lactavist tactics but I think the numbers are higher than most of us would  think. Some people will be offended no matter what you say or how you say it, but I know it is hard for me to remember that not everyone thinks and feels the way I do. Or the majority of the people that make up “my world”. My world view has become very narrow. I know that in the past I have made similar types of posts or said things that weren’t very thoughtful. It makes me wonder how I have made people feel. My friends? My family?

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The Spark

I have what I deem to be good news. It seems that after 3 months of being in a serious teaching rut and questioning many things about my ability to be a good teacher and my profession as a whole… I have finally started to come out the other side feeling ready to get back to it. 🙂 Sometime this past week while trying to compile my thoughts on a blog I am working on about Lactivism (sure to ruffle some feathers :P) and thinking about how I would like to approach teaching about breastfeeding in the future, I felt that spark inside of me. The spark has most definitely been missing. It felt really nice to know that it was still there and that I just really needed a break and time to sort some things out for myself.  I was deeply worried for a minute there that I had lost it for good.

Now that it is back, I feel excited. Making plans for the future and all. With school still coming up, I am hesitate to make any big commitments back to teaching but I feel comfortable with the idea of trying the weekend workshop again, maybe every other month. So any time now you can expect to see something new on schedule from me. 😉

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"It is best to learn as we go, not go as we have learned."

I have been contemplating this blog for a while now but haven’t been sure exactly what to say or how to say it. I guess I still am not sure…. I had mentioned in a prior post about feeling very disconnected from the “birthy” world and I know that there are many reasons contributing to that but the one that I wanted to blog about is one that feels almost wrong to talk about. Like I am breaking an unspoken rule. Hence, why it has taken me so long to do this. I feel like if there is any hope of moving forward and retaining some of my past birthy self, then I need to start working through and processing my feelings.

I have lived and breathed birth for the past four years. It has been a passion. It has been an obsession. Educating myself, feeling empowered by that and then working with families to inspire empowerment. There used to be nothing more exciting for me than watching a couple have an AHA moment. What has changed that?

I am not really sure what set off this round of negativity I am on at the moment, as it is recent. If I look to the past though, the very first time I had small doubts about my work was during my pregnancy with Addison. I was reading around on an unassisted childbirth site and happened across the opinion of someone who doesn’t think doulas are a good thing. At the time the idea kinda shocked me. I mean, how could doulas not be a good thing? She went on about how doulas, while their intentions are good, serve the purpose of being a tool of the system. That ultimately what a doula accomplishes is to make women feel good about their births. Isn’t that the point? Her point was that women that would have been traumatized by their births will leave the hospital having positive memories even when traumatic things were done to them. That in the end doulas are helping keep women in line for the doctors and further making sure that they don’t question the paradigm of medical thinking.

I don’t completely agree with this assement. I am not in any way saying that I think women should not have doulas, so that when they get worked over by the hospital, the nurses, the doctors or midwives that they damn well know they got screwed.  Or even at their homebirth because as much as we all jump on the homebirth wagon, not all homebirths are without trauma or unnecessary interference. I guess what I am feeling is that maybe it isn’t all good or bad. Which then lends me to think that maybe most things are a little good and a little bad.

When I first considered this, my first thought was that maybe the solution was in education. Good education. Arm them with information! Tell them about their options! Or hell! Just tell them that they actually DO have options. Talk about how important a “good” careprovider is to their birth. Talk about benefits vs. risks and evidence based medicine… then they won’t need a doula to make them feel good about their birth. They wouldn’t need that because their birth will be good. Right? Or is it?

I remember reading the book Pushed by Jennifer Block and running across a quote from the author of the book, The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence. I wish I had a copy of the book so I could actually quote it exactly but she had something to say that really got me thinking. It was along the lines that childbirth education has the negative effect of setting women up for disappointment with their births. We spend so much time telling women, “You have options!” All the while sending them into a system that they are very unlikely to get the birth that they want. The one that we help them want. Does that make sense?

Of course we talk about acceptance and flexibility. We talk about how there are no guarantees in birth and that most of the time birth won’t go exactly how you hope that it will. How you envision it. Still. There is that underlying message. The one about choices and how if you make good ones, especially prenatally, then you are placing odds in your favor that things will more likely go that way. No one really believes they will be the one to get screwed. Do they?

It makes me think about my birth with Haden. What a cluster fuck of interventions. But the ME of 5 years ago had no expectations about my birth. I had no preconceived ideals on what I wanted my birth to be or how I SHOULD be giving birth. I just wanted my baby. So now, although I look back at it with irritation because of the things I know now, there is no trauma in that birth for me. How differently would I have felt if I had something completely different in mind?

There is no safety in a “good” careprovider. I used to believe that there was but then I used to believe a lot of things. There is a handful of “good” providers in the Atlanta area and really they have been known to practice their fair share of non-evidence based medicine. Isn’t that what lead me to go to the opposite end of the birth spectrum to have an unassisted birth with Addison? Fear of this intervention. Well, and many other strongly held beliefs that maybe aren’t so strong anymore…

Ignorance is bliss, so they say and I sure do believe it. Does this mean that I think women are better off knowing nothing so that they won’t be disappointed in the results? No. However, it does mean that while I know  I have helped many women in my career, I also wonder how many have I also hurt?

I know this is a terribly cynical post of me. I don’t mean to offend anyone with it, although the first person it should offend would be me. Since this is my life.

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My Doula Hat

My thoughts are all kinds of scattered tonight. Probably because I have a million different things I want to say but I know that if I try to say it all in one blog post it would most definitely bore everyone to tears that might try to read it. I know my attention span is not that long, so in an effort to be realistic and considerate of the 5 people that read my blog (:P) I will try to limit myself tonight.

I think at the top of my priority list, I want to mention that I got to attend a birth this week! My second doula birth since I officially quit doulaing after I got pregnant with Addison. The last one taking place about 5 months ago for a previous doula client and now friend, that birthed her 3rd baby at home.

This time I was able to attend the birth of one of my students. A couple that I just loved, who had already hired an awesome doula before taking my class. I agreed to attend the birth to help Talitha, their doula, since she was recovering from a surgery. I ended up being able to attend part of the birth with Talitha and the other part with Que, her back up. I mention this because I wanted to say here that getting the opportunity to work with these women, was very much a privilege for me.  I have always considered myself to be a sub par doula and this birth only reenforced that to me. LOL

There is something to be said about knowing exactly what to say and how to say it. I think that being a great doula isn’t something that can be learned or taught. It isn’t just about what you know. It is something that is just naturally within you.

Liz and Derek (the parents) did amazing. I was so proud of how strong and flexible they were. I am just feeling very thankful that I was able to be a part of their journey. Hopefully at some point in there I was useful. 😛

In other news, we watched the documentary Forks Over Knives last week. It re-inspired Michael to want to take better care of ourselves nutritionally than we have been. This makes me happy because I do better when I have a good support system. We did good for over a year the last time we tried and once he gave up I slowly struggled with keeping it up. So we start this week with mostly trying to keep to a plant-based diet. We are fazing out all the meat, dairy and eggs. As well as processed junk foods and cokes. Not the cokes!!! I will miss you the most. 🙁 Wish me luck. My will power isn’t what she used to be.

Honestly, my only promise to myself is to not buy these things and regularly keep them in my house. Now… what happens once I leave the house is a whole different thing. 😉 Starting in October I am going back to the finish up my Free belly dancing classes that were gifted to me by my sister last year. I am hoping this will motivate me start exercising again almost daily. I do miss all these things but it is just so much easier to be lazy.

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"This trick is like no other…"

Last night I taught the first class of a Preparing For Your Birth class through Baby Steps and it was such a good time. I have been working really hard over the past month on implementing new ideas and making teaching aids that were inspired by the amazing weekend I spent at Passion for Birth. The workshop opened my mind to teaching in a different way and after actually using some of the things I learned tonight for the first time, I feel like it was a much more conscious way of teaching. The class flowed better. Breaks came at just the right time. I did a better job of chunking the information and changing pace up enough to try and avoid the set in of boredom. I am incredibly pleased with the way it all went.


One of the things I tried this class was making the environment more visually stimulating. Having things out for them to see or look at that might make them feel excited about attending a class.

The signs on the wall are our “Questions of the Day”. They are questions that provoke students to think. Not questions I want them to answer to me but for themselves.
The table includes our snacks for the class. All healthy. This was to emphasis my speak on eating well during pregnancy and to take good care of yourself. In class we say to make sure you get in your healthy calories before you “splurge”. So as a surprise about 30 minutes before class was up I surprised everyone with brownies, since we had already gotten in our “healthy” calories. 😉 I think it worked out well as a good “artichoke”. That is what they call something that you just throw in that surprises and excites people. Thanks to my Boobie for baking them!
There is also a very funny book called Safe Baby Tips for Pregnancy, that is quite hilarious. I encouraged everyone to check it out during our breaks and it was really nice to hear them reading them and laughing over it. I also laid out helpful brochures for people to take and a positive birth quote sign.
In the main area where were sitting. I arranged some of my main teaching aids on the table (baby, pelvis, uterus and placenta). Laid out the handouts packets for the class and the dilation name tags and pens so everyone could make their own name tag. Those name tags are representative of 6, 8 and 10 cm dilation. 🙂

Another thing that I tried out was the Kegel Song. I recently downloaded the mp3 of it for a couple dollars. Ann Tumblin had played it for us at the Seminar and I thought it was hilarious! That is my sense of humor for ya. 😉 So when doing exercises and talking about kegels, I played it on for them. It really has quite the catchy beat and lots funny lyrics. It is kinda on the long side and I only played it for a about a minute. The lyrics for the part I played….

There’s an exercise that every woman needs
It’s called the Kegel, the pelvic squeeze
Its great at any age
Lets make it all the rage
It’s good for you, it’s fun and it’s a breeze 



You can do it in the bank or on the bus
You can do it with the minimum of fuss
Find the muscle you’d locate
When you don’t want to urinate
And squeeze, squeeze, squeeze …… and relax



Do the kegel , the pelvic squeeze
Come on with me ladies and kegel please
You’ll adore your pelvic floor
When you squeeze, squeeze, squeeze … and relax 



You can kegel when you’re talking on the phone
We can kegel together or alone
But when you’re with your lover
This trick is like no other
It’s guaranteed to make your honey moan



Good stuff! SO I just had to share my excitement. I was a little anxious before class, just putting too much pressure on myself to try and be more engaging and thought-provoking and afraid that it wouldn’t go the way I hoped. It required a lot more work to prepare for class this time but my hope is that as I implement everything in and get more used to these things being my routine it won’t seem so time consuming. I also had to get to class 30 minutes earlier than I would have used to, so I could set everything up. Now I want to go to the store and get some things I need for next week’s class. 😉

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Letting Go

I woke up this morning is a particularly foul mood and then proceeded to go abut my day acting generally ugly to everyone without completely knowing why. Everything was irritating me, I did far too much yelling while trying to express myself, not sure why I was SO upset. After getting Addison down for her afternoon nap, I hoped the reprieve from having to deal with 2 children would make me feel better and then in the midst of my afternoon work, I realized why I was upset.

Today was the day that polls closed for the election for the new Georgia Birth Network Board of Directors. The day that I officially had to announce the new Board members and started thinking of the process of getting everything moved over. It isn’t as if I didn’t know all this was coming and it is utterly silly that I should be upset because I wanted this. A lot. None the less, I felt sad. Then once I acknowledged what was bothering me, I started crying and then I couldn’t stop. LOL I went and crawled in Michael’s lap and made him hug me so I could cry like a baby over my completely irrational feelings. The I dried it up and drank a beer (don’t judge me :P) and I have felt much better since, even though I am crying a little bit even now that I am typing this.

I guess it is harder to give it up than I realized it would be. Something I put so much of myself into. 🙁 I know it will be in good hands so I am not particularly worried. I will just miss some things about it. In official capacity, I am no longer the President of Georgia Birth Network. I am sure I will feel better about it tomorrow. I just need to sleep it off. 😛

Hopefully I have managed to make up my crazy behavior to my kids since I settled myself down. We moved on from numbers today to work on alphabet review and made an Alphabet Train.

Then proceeded to watch our new Alphabet Songs DVD that I got at the homeschool expo. Lots of singing, dancing and snacking took place. This afternoon has been pretty chill. I think that is my game plan for the rest of the weekend too.