Thursday, October 21, 2010


All kids have them: those cute things they say that you don't want to forget, but because you're so (tired, distracted, busy) you do, unless you record them right away! Some of the things Nathan has said that have made me laugh:

Yogret (sounds kind of like "egret")
Translation: Yogurt

Fruit Cottontail
Translation: Fruit cocktail

Stein-Stein Bears
Translation: Berenstain Bears

Ritz Crozalyn
Translation: Ritz Carlton

Translation: Sandwich

Fall's coming this winter!
Translation: hmmm...

Bonus entertaining Nathan moment:
The first time Nathan saw his big boy bed, he said "I can't believe my eyes!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good things are happening

I know a lot of the stuff I've posted about lately has been tough things, so I wanted to share a few of the things that have been going right lately.

Daniel has started sleeping a lot better, sometimes nine to ten hour stretches. Everyone who has been reading the blog will know how I feel about that. My brain has stopped feeling quite so much like cotton candy.

My house is clean. No, I didn't do it. My mother-in-law spoke my love language by sending me Lisa, a gem of a woman who calls her cleaning service a way to make money and a ministry. Boy, did she minister to me! She and her partner Angie cleaned, organized, and left our house sparkling and looking better than it has since we moved in.

It's fall. The best time of year for so many reasons. Not the least of which is being liberated from the oven which we call a Georgia summer. I love that first little bite of cool air. It makes me feel like anything is possible.

I found a multivitamin/multimineral Daniel can take. Maybe this doesn't seem like such a big accomplishment; however, I ran into a couple of obstacles during my search. Almost all infant drops only contain vitamins, and because of Daniel's dietary restrictions, I felt that he needed something that also contained minerals. Also, I had a difficult time finding a vitamin free of all the substances Daniel is allergic to, since even the hypoallergenic formulas contained rice protein. But I finally found something. It's an aloe and seaweed base, sweetened with stevia and flavored with elderberry. Best of all, when I started giving it to him, it didn't make him itch!

I have brand new winter clothes. Thanks to a couple of productive shopping trips (which I oh-so-rarely take) and a bag of hand-me-downs, I have plenty of long-sleeve tees, a couple of cute jackets and sweaters, and enough new pants to get me through the cold weather. And I bought a pair of brown, backless, fleece-lined heels, the first heels I have bought in years. We'll see how that goes. I'm reserving them for very special occasions only (read, no kids).

I have figured out a variety of foods we can eat on the allergy diet. We've eaten plenty of meat, potatoes and vegetables, but we've also had spaghetti (thanks to the corn and quinoa pasta I found), and nachos (with my homemade taco seasoning, just as delicious as the packaged stuff and without that unnatural orange coloring). We are, by default, eating healthier than we ever have, more fruit, more veggies, more beans. Fewer preservatives, artificial colorings, and sweeteners.

I could go on, but I need to wrap up this post and pay some concentrated attention to my two favorite little good things, one of whom has just covered his hands in stamp pad ink. Here's to the good life!

Define me

I am not defined by my problems. I am defined by how I choose to respond to my problems.

I am not defined by my struggles. I am defined by my resilience.

I am not defined by the events in my life. I am defined by the content of my character.

I am not defined by my pain. I am defined by my joy.

I am not defined by how I feel, how I look, or how others perceive me. I am defined by my place as God's child, by the way God sees me, and by the motives he perceives in my heart.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Perfect Birth Vs. the No-Regrets Birth

I recently read a blog about "The Myth of the Perfect Birth" and it prompted me to think about the concept of the perfect birth. I'm a dedicated birth junkie. I believe that how birth happens is important, and that "mother and baby are healthy" outcomes should not be the only goal (although they will always be the primary and most important goal). Between my two births, I have experienced just about everything possible in the birth world. I've had an induction, artificially ruptured membranes, epidural, and c-section (Nathan). I've had a home birth, labored in the water, no medication (not even a Tylenol), pushed the baby out in my own bed, episiotomy performed by my home birth midwife, stitched up by my hospital based doctor (Daniel). I think the only thing I haven't experienced is a short, uncomplicated labor (lucky me). So I well know that having the perfect birth can truly be an unattainable goal for some, particularly if your wishes for the birth involve more than getting the baby out any way possible. However, I do believe it is possible for any mom in any situation to have what I call a "no-regrets" birth.

I had a "no-regrets" birth with Daniel. I did not with Nathan. You might be sitting there thinking, "Well, duh. You finally got your natural, vaginal birth--and after a c-section, no less!" Actually, Daniel's birth would have been "no-regrets" even if I had ended up in the hospital having a repeat c-section (although I would NOT have been a happy camper). What made Daniel's birth "no-regrets" and Nathan's birth not was that, with Daniel, I made the best possible choices to promote the chances of having the birth I wanted. I advocated for myself. I stepped out (Stephen would say WAY out) of the box. I took risks, but they were the risks that I chose to take, eyes wide open. And if my birth had not turned out the way I had hoped, I would have known that I had done everything possible to make it what I wanted, and for reasons beyond my control, it was not meant to be.

I had to do a lot of emotional processing after Nathan's birth, especially since his birth was pretty much the exact opposite from what I intended. I wanted the complete natural package: make the big phone call ("I'm in labor, honey!"), labor in my home for much of the time, arrive at the hospital just in time to close the deal and push the baby out with lots of panting, sweating, and no meds. Snuggle baby for the prescribed hour before he was even removed from my arms. Nurse right away. Sometimes reality bites. Two weeks overdue, I checked into the hospital with an unfavorable cervix for an induction. Two Cervidils, lots of Pitocin, and one artificial rupture of the membranes later, I was in serious pain with no, and I mean NO progress. The doctor, trying to be positive, said, "I think you're about a fingertip now." Not what I was looking for, lady! When she said that sometimes having the epidural can relieve the pain and promote dilation, all my mental fortitude went out the window. After a horrible hour of waiting for the epidural man to arrive, I started to get some relief from the pain, but my blood pressure dropped and Nathan's heart rate dropped. The only way they could stabilize us was dropping the Pitocin levels. I remember them wheeling in the table with all the delivery instruments on it and thinking "But I'm not even dilated." I guess they had made up their mind that the baby needed to be delivered one way or the other, and the next cervical check would decide my fate. The news was not good. Still a centimeter. No way the baby was coming out that way. It was off to the O.R. The c-section could have been a poster birth for the doctors. Nathan came out pink and healthy. No complications with performing the surgery or the anesthesia. Stephen held Nathan minutes after he was born. I had to listen to his cry from my position, immobilized on the operating table. After a quick glimpse of him, Nathan was whisked off to the newborn nursery, and I dozed as they stitched me up, exhausted by the ordeal. It was hours before I saw him again. Finally, close to midnight, I sent Stephen to get Nathan, and told him, unequivocally, that he was not to come back until he brought the baby with him. I missed out on so many of the moments that were important to me. Being the first to hold the baby after he was born. Being there to watch the grandparents see the baby for the first time. Being there for those first precious hours of my baby's life. I was drugged, separated, and devastated. When my baby finally did arrived, wheeled in one of those little plastic carts, I clung to him. He was beautiful. Perfect. Everything I had longed for. Yet I couldn't let go of how everything had gone so horribly against my expectations.

To this day the "what-if's" swirl in my head. What if we had watched and waited for another day? Or two? Or three? How long would we have had to wait for my own body to initiate labor? What if we had done a slower induction? More ripener and more time before cranking the Pit? Or what if I hadn't let them break my waters? Would that have provided enough cushion to make the contractions gentler so Nathan wouldn't have been stressed by them? Or bearable so I wouldn't have had the epidural that initiated the decelerations? What if? What if, what if, what if?

I'm a person who wants to know. Even if the news is the worst, most horrifying news possible, just tell me so we can start dealing with it. Unfortunately, I'll never know if the cascade of intervention was responsible for the scar I now bear. I've worked through much of my emotional pain, although I still feel a pang when I hear a glowing new mom's story of how perfectly everything happened. I've come to a place of acceptance. I made the best decisions I could with the information I had at the time. I'm so thankful that my baby was born healthy. I'm so thankful that I healed well, and to this point, have experienced no complications from my Cesarean scar. I have so much to be thankful for, but it does not negate the way things happened or the toll it took on me. My birth experience was so far from the expectations that I had that I felt a little bit like I had planned a lovely trip to Paris but was shoved off with nothing but a parachute and landed in the middle of Nigeria. (I don't know anything about Nigeria. I really didn't want to go to Nigeria. But here I am in Nigeria. What do I do now?)

It took a work of God to accomplish my emotional healing. HE is able. Although I have questions, I no longer have regrets about Nathan's birth. But that is due to the greatness of my God, not the smallness of my problem (if you couldn't read between the lines, it was not a small problem to me). I am boasting in the Lord, because I am an overcomer. I have climbed this mountain, and He held my hand.

I knew pretty much as Nathan was being yanked from my abdomen that I would try for a VBAC with my second child. Although I did not know it at the time, I walked out of that hospital a very different person. While becoming a mother, I had found my voice, and I was ready to speak up for myself and my child, and all my future children. I did not know when I was having Nathan how much of an impact caregiver and location have on birth interventions and outcomes. After his birth, I became a research maniac. I read every book on birth I could get my hands on. I searched the internet. I joined ICAN's message board. I stared in (loving) disbelief when other mommies told me they were scheduling their elective repeat c-section. I obtained my records and pored over details of my scar placement and the relative risks of uterine rupture. I compared the risks of uterine rupture to the risks of catastrophic placental complications associated with multiple c-section scars. I found out the dirty little secret of obstetrics in the US: they smile and tell you you can have a VBAC while secretly sharpening their scalpel. You can have a VBAC, if you go into labor before 39 weeks, if the baby is perfectly positioned, if the baby is not too big, if you don't have any pregnancy complications. Perfect births happen rarely, but they almost never happen to a VBAC mom, probably because VBAC moms often have to overcome the issue that led to the initial Cesarean, whether that be a tendency to bake their babies longer (as I do), or a history of carrying their babies breech, stubborn cervixes, or a pelvic structure that does not lend itself to easy passage for babies looking for the exit. So to create conditions that only permit VBAC if birth is proceeding perfectly explains the abysmal VBAC rate in the United States.

That was when I started contemplating a home birth. Note that at this point, I was not even pregnant. I was crafting my master plan. I had discovered the secret. Having the birth you want is not a process of checking the appropriate boxes on your printed birth plan. Neither is it being in the right place in your own head, although that certainly helps. Are you ready? Here's the secret: you have to choose the right people to surround you during an extremely vulnerable time. I can be a bit of a control freak at times, so I was surprised to discover during Nathan's birth that although these people must obtain your consent before moving forward with anything, other people manage your birth. Particularly if you are planning a medication free birth, someone else has to be in charge while you breathe, scream, pant, and just try to survive while thinking that you'd rather be dead. And if you choose medication, it can dull your usually sharp faculties at the same moment you are forced to make life-altering decisions. What loving mom or dad can look at a doctor who is saying "Well, I'm a little concerned about this baby's well-being," and refuse any intervention to get that beloved baby in their arms safely? That's why it's important to know that your attending doctor or midwife knows your wishes, has your back, and that you can trust them not to recommend anything to you until it is definitely necessary.

I think if you're still reading, you might be a birth junkie too, but, believe it or not, I have more to say! I haven't even started on my journey with my little Daniel. But it's time to post and save Daniel's story, and the rest of my thoughts, for later. Until then, happy birthing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Family Vacation

Day 1:

We plan to leave for the beach as soon as we can get ready, but do not set a departure time. We finally pull out of the driveway at 12:30.

The kids whine a lot, and can only be silenced by copious amounts of sugary snacks.

Five minutes from the condo, Nathan has an accident because he can't hold it. (He told us he had to go five minutes before it happened).

We arrive at the condo and find there is no crib. Apparently, everyone thought someone else called on it.

Stephen calls for a crib and they won't be able to bring one until morning.

Daniel runs around the condo at 3:00 a.m. I try to corral him and get him back to sleep.

Day 2:

Crib does not come first thing in the morning as promised.

Husband stays in sleep coma until after 10:00. Kids whine, disobey, and generally annoy their mother.

Stephen heads to Walmart. He plans to call on the crib if it hasn't arrived by the time he gets back. I sit on the couch, growing increasingly desperate.

Still no crib.

We find out the ball has been dropped again, and a crib was not even on the way. We are told a crib will be here by bedtime.

I have emotional meltdown. I feel like crying, but instead take out frustration on husband and children. (Make them get me a crib, NOW! YOU are not the one who got no sleep last night!)

CRIB ARRIVES!!!! Daniel is so tired that he is almost as thrilled as I am to see it there. He takes a blissful, three-hour nap.

Nathan finally gets to go to the beach for the first time on our trip after dinner.

My tummy is upset because I have been eating too many sweets.

Day 3:

Nathan wakes before eight. I lock bedroom door to keep him from waking up Daniel. Nathan breaks sunglasses trying to pick lock.

I try to remove very full bag from trashcan. Bag busts. I pick up diapers covered in chicken bones coated with oatmeal.

Husband is in sleep coma again.

I relieve frustration on blog, and hope I won't have anything to add to it except what a great time we had for the rest of our family vacation.