Friday, September 29, 2006

Convert or Die!!!

Another observation on the Terri Irwin interview: The segment showed two snipets on the births of the Irwin's two children. During the first birth Dad delivered the baby, mom appeared upright on a normal bed. In the shot of the second birth, Dad was still delivering, but they were drapped, masked, artificially lit, stirruped, and a doctor (I suppose) was helping Steve catch the baby (he didn't seem to need any help with the first one). It made me wonder if they had their first baby in Australia and their second in the US, or perhaps a birth center, then a hospital. Anyway, I would have been deeply disappointed with that second birth after the first one was so untampered with.
I thought of this later yesterday when I was having a conversation with another business owner on my block. I stopped in to commiserate because we have so much in common: both nurses, both business owners, both pregnant and due soon. We were both moaning about the state of our accounts receivable, when the topic turned to our pregnancies. She asked where I was delivering (always a loaded question), and I told her at home. Of course she began her tirade about how she MUST have her epidural. I began my equally emphatic tirade about my preference for control and how easier it is to bounce back after a drug free delivery. Now I sit here kicking myself- I should have asked her for her views on how labor and delivery styles impact breastfeeding. She owns a breastfeeding store for god's sake, surely she's thought about the impact of birth practices. She is also a neonatal nurse, surely she's seen the fallout to babies of bad birth practices. After all these years I'm still shocked that nurses look at these things as NORMAL and even worse than that, they see them as benevolent. They really believe they are giving the best care possible to their patients. When I think about how many have never even SEEN a normal birth, it blows my mind, since they attend births for a living. How will my former compatriots view my book? I'll probably be branded a heritic, and burned in effigy. Or perhaps they won't be surprised at all, after all I've been preaching the same sermon for 20 years now. All I'm saying is, nurses are the hardest converts.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The British Are Coming!

Just spoke to my doula friend on the phone. The Brits had a baby girl early this morning!!!! She was their doula and I woke her out of a post-birth slumber because I had a feeling I should call and get an update. I knew they were due any day now. One of our concerns is that they were due to have their baby only a few weeks before me. Kinda hard to film a birth when you're in labor yourself! Seems her water broke a couple of days ago so it was a long labor (typical for a first birth) but the doula said she had a wonderful, natural, drug-free labor and birth with my favorite midwife practice. I'm so glad for them. I'll wait a couple of days and give them a call. I like to avoid that initial onslought of calls and visits that happens the first few days when mom and baby need their rest. The doula told me they named her Harper. What a great name.

Much Ado About Everything

I had a few Braxton-Hicks last night. Just a gentle reminder that time is short and this pregnancy will not last forever. I feel rather like a time-bomb waiting to explode. Will I get everything I need to do done in time? Now that I am 37 weeks (and often deliver at 38 weeks), I need to really focus on getting things ready for the birth. Today I move back home to office- a move facilitated by the fact that yesterday, I tripped over my laptop cord and sent it sailing to the floor where the screen cracked into a million slivers. It's en route back to the factory for repairs (thank God I purchased that warrenty!) To top yesterday off, my husband's car won't start so we may be down just to one vehicle again (damit, I was hoping that car would get us through the winter). When I got home from the office, my husband was grilling our dinner. I told him about my bounced check and broken computer. He told me about his car and the missed vet appointment (that damn cat disappears every time he has an appointment- its like he knows). We just sighed and held each other. This too shall pass, I suppose. We had a very nice dinner that my husband had prepared, took the girls out for ice cream and watched our favorite family shows; America's Next Top Model, and Lost. (Don't ask me how ANTM become a family favorite but we all watch it and root for our favorite girl.) Later I watched the interview with Steve Irwin's widow on 20/20. Of course I cried. Again, it made me remember how much I have to be grateful for. I can't imagine, the long stretch of years ahead, without my best friend and confidant. I also thought my life would be very well lived, if I left this earth having had at much influence in my chosen sphere as Steve Irwin had in his. What a legacy he has left. I want that for my own life as well- what will I leave behind when I go? One of the highlights of a mostly bleak day, was my appointment with my counselor. We continued to talk of my struggles with my feelings about my parents but I can feel things resolving- finally after weeks of agonizing. I told her how I wanted to write a letter to them, and she encourage me to go ahead and write it, but that I might find that I won't necessarily feel the need to actually send it. Fair enough. Of course, their letter will have to stand in line behind all the thank you notes I need to get out. I have to order my birth kit- like today! I'm still cleaning and organizing the house for the birth. My midwife will do a home visit next week so thats my deadline. We still have to go buy the crib and dresser, because until those are assembled and in place I can't unpack the huge pile of baby stuff still in boxes sitting in a corner of our bedroom waiting to be put away. So much to do, and if the Braxton-Hicks are any indication, so little time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Will Work for Therapy

Yesterday was full of blessings. My Toastmaster group treated me to a rather unorthodox baby shower that was a modified TM meeting. We had a Table Topics meeting where everyone got to tell a birth story, or their favorite nursery rhyme, or a piece of parenting advice. It was very sweet and really fun. I was presented with a generous gift certificate to the store of my choosing. It was more than enough to get the crib I had pre-selected. I'll think I'll use the extra to get a porta-crib to keep at the office. My son called me mid-day (the 28 year old) to ask me to pick him up from work because he had a migraine. I just happened to be a few blocks a way when he called, so I picked him up and took him home. After dropping him off I had an urge to visit my parents, who live just down the street from my son. I've been feeling really weird about them lately, but my dad had a burst appendix last week and had to have emergency surgery. I left for LA without seeing him and hadn't visited since my return. I'm really glad I stopped by. My mother was out, but Dad was shuffling around in his pjs and robe and my grandmother was there as well (she's lives with them and is mostly bed ridden). My visit with my dad was very healing. We had a really good and honest talk, something we rarely do. He acknowledged that he had not been a good father (he was neglectful and laxidazical) and I accepted that. He also said he was very proud of me and the person I've become. (That was nice to hear since I'm not feeling so accomplished or responsible these days with two overdrawn bank accounts, a bounced check and bills piling up to my pregnant belly). I have forgiven my parents. I know we were poor, but I also know they partied a lot. I know I didn't have a bike, or ballet lessons, or dental visits. I think I could have had at least some of those things if they didn't party, drink, and drug away part of their limited financial resources. Its hard to stay mad at them especially since neither of them are those people anymore. Now my mother is in church 3-4 days a week. (Where was this person when I was growing up?) Now, my dad is a devoted family man, it seemed when I was growing up, he couldn't find enough reasons to be out the door and away from us. (My parents cared for my dad's mother for years until she passed away then immediately took in my mother's mother.) If I complain about my parents, my friends look at me like I'm nuts because they are such fine upstanding citizens, NOW. Well these people are not the people who raised me. When I was growing up my mother was a depressed drug addict, my dad the worst kind of womanizer. Oh well, it is what it is. I do look forward to talking more to my counselor about all this and hashing it out with her, (even though I can't really afford the visits- I feel like one of those panhandlers I see standing on street corners holding up cardboard signs- "will work for food- and or therapy") I want to be mad at them, but mostly I'm just sad about it all. I felt good about my visit with Dad though. I wanted to tell him, how disappointed I was in him as a father, but when he admitted it first, I didn't have the heart to bash him with my feelings. Especially with him sitting their recovering from a near fatal experience, gaunt from weight loss, and looking older and frailer than ever. We talked and hugged. I did feel redeemed, somewhat. I went in to visit with my grandmother and rubbed her feet as she told me stories of her own grandmother. I prompt her for family stories everytime I'm in her presence. My dad gave me the best compliment he's ever given me when he told me that I have my grandmother and mother's spirit. A light went on in my head. I do have their spirit- I am strong and courageous and stubborn as they are. It is why I will not only survive, but thrive. As I drove away, I thought, just because I didn't have a real father/daughter relationship with my dad when I was a kid, doesn't mean I can't have one now. I can invite him to things, involve him, and do things with him now. I'm so used to his being an outsider in our lives, this thought only just now occurs to me. I never invite him to anything, assuming he won't come. I invite my mother, and if she gets him to come along, fine. I'm shocked at how accustomed I've become to not having any expectations of him. But I love the thought- that at 44 years of age, I can begin to work on filling that father-daughter void.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bringing Baby Along

Attended the world's longest board meeting last night- probably my last for a while. My life is winding down to fewer and fewer outside pursuits. I look forward to "coming home" next month as I transfer my office to my living room. Last night while at the meeting, I kept thinking, can I bring a baby to this meeting? I won't ask anyone's permission, but I do wonder how freaked out they'll be when I walk in with a baby, and then start to nurse him or her at the table. Part of my brain says that it would not be appropriate, the other part says, that if I don't have the courage to do it, who will? I'm in the perfect position to be a model for other women. I do believe my newborn should go where I go- and that actually worked fine before. Now I go to entirely different places, board and client meetings instead of playgroup, places of business instead of LLL meetings, educational lunches instead of homeschool field trips. Trust me, there are no babies at any of the places I now frequent. I probably shouldn't be, but I'm torn.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Small Pelvis, Big Baby Pandemic

Feeling quite pregnant these days. My hip joints have gone soft and I walk with an exaggerated waddle. I feel good but move slow, what I lack in agility, I make up in pulcritude (must be that pregnancy glow, my skin is glorious). I think about the birth and the baby a lot. There's still much to do to prepare. One more baby shower, tomorrow, from my Toastmaster group. Yesterday after church, I got caught up in a conversation with a pregnant newlywed, the daughter-in-law of a long time aquaintance. She sounded so typical as she talked about her family history of cesareans and how she would probably have to have one as well, because of her small pelvis and big baby. I looked at her and shook my head, small pelvis my ass. What fool doctor would tell this big hearty robust girl she has a small pelvis? And what's with the big baby talk- SHE'S NOT EVEN SHOWING YET! How does her doctor know she's going to have a "big baby" whatever the hell that is. And so the set up begins. This young girl's thinking is sabotaged from the outset. She told how her grandmother had had 21 children, at home, yet her mother had had all her babies by cesarean. Which legacy will win out? Another generation of cesarean born children, or will she reclaim her birth right? The battles are lost and won in these casual conversations. My voice gets drowned out by so many opposing messages. Women still assume that their doctors have their best interest at heart. Its my heart-breaking job to tell them, it ain't so. Caregivers can no longer afford to act solely in their patien'ts best interest- the world of healthcare can no longer sustain such benevolence. Why should they believe me when I say such outrageous things? I have to come up with some persuasive arguing in my book. I will tell what I saw and heard as an insider and hope folks will be as shocked and appalled as I was.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Attacking the "Bottle Model"

Yesterday I attended a day long conference that featured Jack Newman, a Toronto pediatrician, talking about breastfeeding. How refreshing to hear a physician really support breastfeeding. I was particularly enthralled with his talk on how birthing practices impact breastfeeding. Nothing radical or new, just refreshing to hear a physician saying those things (even if he is Canadian and not American). Makes me wonder why the American healthcare system can't figure some of this out. I left the conference empowered in my thinking, more convinced than ever that I need to birth my way. I felt very validated by what I heard. Things like: breastfeeding is the physiological norm, bottle feeding is an intervention. How could we have fallen so far, always comparing breast to bottle? It should be the other way around; how does bottle stack up to breast? He talked a lot about how formula companies market and their subtility in undermining breastfeeding. There was a moment of panic among the conference planners when they realized one of the vendors, a national baby store chain, had placed prenatal vitamins manufactured by a formula company, and a sample baby bottle in their goody bags that they were handing out to the attendees. Talk about a lulu of a boo boo. They had to quickly go through the bags and pull those items. My friend Charlene argued that the store should have known better than to give out bottles at a breastfeeding conference. I told her, of course they wouldn't know any better- this is the whole point of what the speaker was talking about- we live in a bottle feeding culture. Of course they wouldn't get it. After all breastfeeding mothers take vitamins right? Breastfeeding mothers supplement and use bottles, right? Only us lactivists would think twice about using vitamins made and marketed by formula companies. The whole point of this conference (I think) is to demonstrate how little awareness there is that breastfeeding is endangered and under attack precisely because we live in a "bottle-model" society where breastfeeding is constantly compared with bottle feeding instead of the other way around. The speaker gave excellent examples of how breastfeeding is routinely threatened, not just by formula companies, but by our own healthcare system and providers. I certainly saw breastfeeding underminded as a labor and delivery nurse. In most hospitals around the country, the cure to any breastfeeding problem is bottle feeding. The cure to any ailment or potential ailment is bottle feeding. Nobody gets that formula is ARTIFICIAL BREASTMILK. I just about decided to refer to formula as artificial breastmilk, after all, thats what it is. Who will join me? Lets call it what it really is- second best.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hey MacArthur, you forgot about me!

It's nice to be home again. It even felt good to be back in my ordinary bed, after experiencing an extraordinary one. I'm taking some good advice I received and am divesting myself of all extemporaneous involvements. I thought about this long and hard while on my trip. I'm trying to expunge every area of my life of extras. I'm not only dropping out of one of my boards, I'm also unsubscribing from email newsletters that I never read. My goal is to simplify so that I have more time and space for family and preparing for the new baby. I'll be officing at home starting next week. I'll also be sending out emails explaining to folks that I won't be making appointments, or attending meetings for a while. I've also designated key folks whom I'll delagate tasks to in the business. I came home to a supurbly clean house, thanks to my mother-in-law (truly a much appreciated gift). I now feel ready to tackle some organization projects around the house. Like how to organize the school papers of 5 kids, that trickle in daily (any suggestions dear readers?) I'm going out to buy some cubicles so they have a specific place to stash their backpacks so I can stop tripping over them when I walk in the front door! I've returned from my trip refreshed, and energized and ready to tackle the next indicated thing.

I spent time on the plane reading about the MacArthur Genious Awards that were recently awarded for this year. Every year I hope against hope...oh well, maybe next year.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Finding my Blessings in Man-Heaven

I'm sitting on an umbrella shaded patio under the California sun. I've been attending a two day conference on grant funding, with my husband and five others from my foundation. I've sat through several 90 minute sessions on various aspects of philanthropy while my husband splashes in the ocean. (Yesterday he saw a movie being made that involved lots of women in bikinis and a car being blown up- I didn't ask which he enjoyed seeing more, but it sounded like man-heaven.) The conference site is lovely, the hotel quite luxurious. The bed in our hotel room may very well be the best bed I've ever slept in. I practically need a step ladder to get into it, its so high off the ground. The comforter and pillows are so generously fluffy. I could stretch out my arms and legs and not bump into my husband. Ahh, the luxury of bed space- so this is how the other half sleeps. I ordered chocolate cake and ate it in bed while we watched cheesy movies. For my birthday yesterday, we got together with my long time friend Cindy, who relocated to LA about 5 years ago. Her son Avery is 16 now, a handsome and accomplished young man. The four of us drove around Chinatown, at my request, and found a Chinese restaurant to have dinner at. It was so good to reconnect. Cindy came here to study Traditional Chinese Medicine- a 6 year course of study that will result a masters in accupuncture. I'm so proud of her and yet I can see the tiredness that has permeated her being. Survival here has been difficult for her. The cost of living is high, she's raising her son alone, and I can tell the last 5 years have been lean and tumultuous. Cindy's former husband, a once brilliant, handsome, and sweetly amiable attorney, has been lost to us all in a dark and unrelenting abyss of drug addiction. His memory haunts and hangs over us as Cindy makes reference to her and Avery's ongoing "recovery" through their support group. How do you "recover" from a husband and a father? The visit leaves me sobered and once more counting my blessings. I think we live hand to mouth, but seeing Cindy forces me to remember all our resources. We own our home, located in a safe suburban neighborhood, our kids go to good public schools, we are surrounded by family and friends to take up the slack, I have a loving and supportive husband who is my partner in both rain and shine. I kick myself for taking so much for granted, for feeling sorry for myself. It seems appropriate on my 44th birthday to count my blessings. I tell my husband again and again what a good man he is, and how much I love and appreciate him. We find each other across the huge bed and snuggle. This is all the gift I need.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Silence is Golden

I attended a day long silent retreat yesterday. It was wonderful. For those who have never experienced a silent retreat, I highly recommend it. What does one do on a silent retreat? Plenty. The organizers of this retreat, (it happened to be my annual Parish Nurse retreat) had things very well planned out. It was held at a retreat center, so there were ponds and wooded areas with trails for us to walk. There was a prayer labyrinth to walk as well. They gave us each a "kit" at the beginning that included a journaling book, a pen, a small Gideon Bible, and bottled water. After an hour of instructions and directions, they set us loose on the grounds. We were given many options of how to spend our day. There were rooms set aside for silent meditation and prayer and bedrooms set up for sleep even! There was a sign-up for 30 minute sessions of one-on-one prayer and reflective listening. There were portable CD players with headphones and a vast array of meditative music CDs. There were mandalas printed on paper that we could color in with colored markers. Box lunches were provided so we could stay out all day or come back at will for a meal. Though some of the ladies expressed concern over being able to be silent for the day, I have long been enamored of the practice of silence. I think it is a wonderful discipline that everyone could benefit from. Its amazing what you'll hear if you keep your mouth shut long enough. It was a beautiful day, in the low 80s with a sky full of fluffy clouds. I wanted to hear the sounds a nature for a while and then slipped on my headphones to listen to some John Micheal Talbot, a monk who sings very meditative music. (A little bit of Keith Green would have been perfect for this occassion as well, but was not made available) I wanted to try some of everything suggested, but would you believe, the time was just too short? I didn't get to walk the prayer labyrinth, but I know of one back in the city that I promise myself to visit. I did sign up for the reflective listening and prayer time with one of the trained practitioners. It was a beautiful and healing time. I really needed a retreat like that. I wished I could have done it for several days, a week even! What a time of physical refreshment and spiritual renewal. It made me see how crazy my schedule is and how hectic my life. (I knew that already, but on this occassion, I FELT it.) My body is so tired and wrung out. I can't give birth like this. I have start backing away from some of my committments, bit by bit, and start delegating what I can. (To think, I almost didn't go to the retreat, almost called away once more by the tyranny of the urgent.) I am looking for ways to incorporate more silence into my life- at least until the baby comes.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Women's Stories

The baby shower was wonderful! Dotty and LaDonna did a great job of putting everything together. There must have been between 30-40 guests. We held it in the church to accomodate everyone. There was a huge table of foood, lots of gifts, and many wonderful friends to help us celebrate. After everyone filled their plates and settled in their seats, we went around the room and everyone got to introduce themselves, tell how they knew me, how long, and why they selected the bead that they did for my labor necklace. Then they dropped the bead into a basket and passed it to the next person. This was my favorite part. Most of those people in the room I had known for over 20 years. It felt good to have that kind of longevity in friendships. About half the folks there were"non-church" friends. It was fun to have both groups meet one another. There was Lark, whom I met in a women's writing group about 10 years ago, Charlene whom I asked to speak at a conference I was organizing about 15 years ago, now we travel the highways and byways speaking at conferences together about breastfeeding. There was Kati, whom I met at La Leche League when our 18 years olds were babies, and Rebecca, who I developed a bond with while we nursed our now 15 year olds together as new neighbors. The newest friend was Suzanne, our current neighbor whom we met when we moved here a year and a half ago. Suzanne's kids and mine have become indistinguishable as they run back and forth between our houses. It made me feel good to see how filled my life is with these wonderful women. After the bead talk, there was more food, then birth stories. We asked for 2 or 3 thinking the women might be shy, but about 7 women stood up and gave their birth stories in front of the camera. My favorite story was given by June, a dynamo of woman in her 80s that told her story of marrying and having her first baby shortly after WWII. She told how horrified the doctors were that she was having a first baby at the age of 35! Now widowed, June and I are "culture buddies" and we attend plays, concerts, musicals, etc. together. In the past year we've seen several musicals, an African-American women's acapella group, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and a Japanese Taiko Drum group and hope to catch some African dance, a ballet and, a clarinet performance later this year. June is without a doubt one of my favorite friendships! She's an absolute doll. I want to grow up to be just like her. After the birth stories, I opened gifts. Friends were very kind and generous. I got two car seats and a stroller, all the bedding requested for the crib, and every Winnie-the-Pooh thing imaginable. As excited as I was about getting the physical things we needed for the baby, my favorite part was without a doubt hearing from others how my life has impacted them. I heard it in the bead stories, and the birth stories. My dear friend Rebecca, talked about how when she was in labor at the hospital, she posted her birth plan everywhere. When the nurse came in and told her it would be easier for her if she let her keep the monitor on continuously, Rebecca reminded her that SHE was the one having the baby and that everything should be done to make it easier on HER, not on the nurse! She said she had the strength to say that because I had advised her to make her needs known. Dotty's sweet daughter-in-law told about how I encouraged her after a miscarraige and then again later with nursing difficulties with a new baby. My own daughter-in-law drew the biggest laugh of the day after wishing me a "long and hard labor" after I told someone one who had wished me a short labor, that I prefer to "savor" my labors. These women and their stories stregnthened me. Two women, told me the stories of their own late (and unplanned) pregnancies and how those babies turned out to be a very special part of their families. By the end of the shower, I was absolutely exhausted from trying to take it all in, trying to absorb every bit of the love, the affirmations, the empowerment from such amazing women. I admire them all and feel priviledged to have my life filled with such women.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Others

Per the previous post on the subject of others present at birth. It might behoove the dear reader to know that I have done it both ways. My last birth went quicker than expected and no one made it in time, not even the midwife! My husband caught the baby. (To this day she and he are as thick as thieves!) Most of my previous births were overrun with "helpers." It was not unusual for me to have six or seven folks- all with assigned roles mind you. I don't like folk just standing around, they all had tasks to perform. To tell the truth, they didn't bother me much, since I mostly just ignored them. My husband and I would retreat to our bedroom and shut the door during transition and no one would come in till I was pushing. Even when I was pushing, I was so fixated I didn't notice them. I would be holding my baby in my arms and suddenly think, wow, when did all these people come in here? Their presence was beneficial because I had them doing stuff, cooking, cleaning, entertaining the kids, but leaving me alone, unless I wanted a massage or counter pressure or something. It was more like having a staff, then a birth team. Even the woman I selected to be my doula this time (a nursing student about my age who has had homebirths of her own), I expect will spend more time helping the midwife than in direct contact with me. When I sat down to really think about this, prompted by the blogging at "Autonomous Birth" I began to see how really independent I am with my births. I need gophers more than attendants. I need my husband, and I want a midwife, but not hovering over me. After that I really only want someone to run interference and keep everyone else away from me, by answering the door and the phone and telling everyone to get lost. One important note here- we NEVER, EVER call anyone and tell them we are in labor except the people who are coming to the birth. I saw this repeatedly in the hospital as an L&D nurse. The couple would call and tell EVERYONE that they were on their way to the hospital and the hordes would descend. Those who didn't come to the hospital (even though they weren't invited to the birth) would call every five minutes. This would disgust me to no end- because it was so disruptive to the woman's laboring process. (Of course most of what goes on in the hospital is disruptive to the woman's laboring process!) We don't tell anyone we're laboring. What for? So they can worry and fret- and bug us about it? We just call them when we have a baby in our arms. Another important note, I don't want anyone present who fears birth or has unresolved issues about birth in general or birth at home. I expect folks to be excited, curious, in awe, or eager to be a witness, but never fearful. I don't tolerate fearful folks at my births. If I think they are going to bring fear, I don't invite them or I uninvite them. I never feel obligated to follow through on an invitation to my birth if I think I have good reason to uninvite them. I don't fear birth and do not tolerate the presence of folks who are nervous, worrisome, or fearful. (This is the basis of my policy about no mothers or mothers-in-laws at births.) Thinking about "the others" and what they have to offer at birth (a skill, a comforting presence, the ability to clean things!) and why they should be there has been very beneficial for me. I know my husband and I can have an unassisted birth because we've already done it. I do desire the presence of a few to tend to safety and logistical matters. That being said I am at peace about the presence of the midwife, her apprentice, and my doula at our birth. Now I need to get all three together so they can meet and to see if they will work well together. I won't hesitate to ammend the list if there is friction. After all, to quote a well delivered line from the movie,Hustle and Flow, "I'm in charge!"

Friday, September 08, 2006

Oprah, I need a Nanny!

Things are going well with the pregnancy. I saw the midwife this week and we had a nice heart to heart about expectations for the birth- I'm strictly hands off. The midwife's apprentice is waiting to boost her numbers with me, but I won't be much fun for her to work on, since I abhor being worked on. Like everything else in my life, when it comes to birth, I'm in charge. Reading "Autonomous Birth" blog really has got me thinking about the role of others in my births. Other than my husband's touch and whispers of encouragement, I really don't like to be bothered with the presence of others- and I really, really don't like be touched by anyone but him in labor. I'm actually considering uninviting folks to the birth- or at least having them stay put in another room while I labor. I'm not sure now I even want my kids there. Of course, as my midwife pointed out, there is the camera crew (ha!). I'm willing to be recorded for a greater good though. (I do think I'm a magnificent birther.) I wish I were as good at being pregnant! I've conquered the charly-horses with boosting my calcium intake (cottage cheese with fresh fruit has become my favorite breakfast), and my chiropractor has helped greatly with the round ligament pains with that crazy hip rolling technique of hers. My arch nemesis now is the hideous, unrelenting HEARTBURN. My midwife suggested avoiding acidic foods, which duhh, why didn't I think of that? It really helps. I figured it out the hard way when I attended a breakfast meeting earlier this week, and helped myself to generous portions of salsa on my breakfast burrito, fresh orange juice, and fresh pineapple. About 15 minutes later it felt like someone was lighting a torch in my stomach. I had to excuse myself from the meeting I hurt so bad. It eventually passed and I returned to my meeting but I thought, never again will I make that mistake. My chiropractor suggested mango tablets which I will look for today at the healthfood store. Mostly I figure if heartburn is the worst thing I have going at 7 1/2 months pregnant, I'm doing pretty well. The shower is in a couple of days and I must confess, I keep looking at my registry to see what I got (how pathetic is that?) like a little kid at Christmas. Though, even more meaningful than all the wonderful gifts will be the communal celebration of this birth. Would you believe when I first found out I was pregnant, I was embarrassed to tell anyone? I guess I'm over that. I saw the Brits again last night. They came to one of my CPR classes to learn for themselves and to record me teaching. I must be getting used to the camera, I didn't even check my makeup first. Business is picking up, the Fall will be busy. I'm hoping my trainers will cover all the classes I'm booking. I plan to teach up until I deliver and then work from home while I convalesce. All I need is my cell and my laptop and I'm in business. After all newborns do sleep 20 hours a day right? My class last night was full of nannies. One stayed after class to offer me her services. Trust me, I'm thinking about it. I read once where Oprah gave her best friend Gail a nanny for a shower gift- hint, hint. (My friends will read this (insert finger waving and head wagging) and say, "well, girl you better start making friends with Oprah!")

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Culture of Fear

After more blog-hopping, particularly over at "Flea" and "Autonomous Birth" its nice to know I'm not alone. "Flea" says basically the same thing about the pediatric world that I'm saying about the OB world- stop treating wellness (i.e. pregnancy) like a disease! "AB" says that we anesthetize ourselves to the sensory experience of life, birth included. I see this more clearly as a nurse than most folks do, because I'm used to dealing with the "icky" stuff that most people would rather not see. Heck, when a woman gives birth, she doesn't even know she's pooping and peeing all over everything at the same time she's pushing her baby out. What philosophical figure from antiquity said, "Between shit and piss, we are born"? Well, they were right, as raw as it sounds. AB makes the point that we can't even face our own human smells. (We cover them up with soaps, perfumes, deodorants, and worst of all, fem sprays!) We definately live in a culture that can't face the nitty gritty of its own animalistic origins. I shouldn't be surprised that this spills over into how we give birth. No wonder people always ask of homebirth, "how do you deal with the mess?" What they are really asking is how can you come so close to your own humaness? At home, there's no veil of technology or "professionals" to protect you from your own animalness. No drugs to keep you quiet and dignified. No draping to protect you from seeing your insides splayed open. No polite no-nonsense nurses to quickly and discreetly clean away your poop and pee so you never even know it was there. Of course there's also no control. The price you pay for this oh so civilized service of protection, is that you place yourself squarely in the control of the medical establishment, which many women are only too happy to do. I used to wonder why I can't do that. Why can't I just roll over and tow the party line? I guess the same reason I've rejected perfumes, deodorants and fem sprays all of my adult life. I want to experience my humanness in all it gore and glory (and besides, I really LIKE the way my body smells). I don't want to be protected from my own sensory experience. There is something to be gained from it. There are lessons to be learned in it. I want to learn them. (and besides, avoidance of it just creates new problems) Its just a part of my philosophy of embracing life, the good, the bad and the ugly. I've found that I cannot dull myself to the dark side of life without becoming dull to the light. As a result, the way I deal with the pain of labor has been transformed. When I am having contractions, I don't try to hide or ignore, or dull the experience, I fall headlong into it. I ride the course of the contraction and fully experience it, and when its gone, its gone. I take my rest. I find it takes much less energy to "ride it out" than to try to escape from it. A consequence of this philosophy is that I no longer fear the pain. Without the fear attached to it, it becomes simply a temporary sensory experience, albeit an unpleasant one, but one I know and understand will eventually end. I can handle that, hence it becomes bearable. I think most women experience labor contractions as unbearable and cannot detach from the fear. I recall the many women I've seen become angry if they feel anything at all (even if its just pressure and not pain). We'll be hard pressed to change the experience of birth for women without changing the cultural context in which it occurs.

A Moment of Introspection

The pregnancy is slowing me down, at a time I feel compelled to move faster. I've had 2-3 hour naps the past few days plus my 8-9 hours of sleep at night. My body must need the extra rest, but my mind is continually racing toward what needs to get done. I've focused on preparing my body for birth, but now I have to think about how I will get into shape in three months for a 55-mile hike with a baby in tow. I barely did it just carrying myself the last two years. My husband won't come with me (and doesn't think I should go either), so I'm on my own. My business is also forefront in my mind. I'm busier than ever and need to start delegating but its so hard to let go and allow others more responsibility. I know my business can't grow otherwise and my tight grip will eventually cause stagnation, but its still difficult for me. I simply lack trust in others' ability to do things as well as I do. I know I've got to change my thinking or I'll simply wear myself out.
Meanwhile, I've been seeing my counselor and working through issues about my parents. This alone has been mind-blowing and I'm at a point where I don't really want to see them or talk to them right now. These issues are so huge I can't really wrap my brain around them right now- especially with so many other things going on. I've thought through my upbringing before, this is not new. I know they did the best they could with what they knew at the time, but I'm stuck on the idea that I'm broken and with a better upbringing, I could have been a better person. I'm yearning to be that better person now, and struggling to give myself permission to go ahead and be her anyway, in spite of my upbringing. Do you know how hard it is to break a lifetime of bad behaviors, beliefs and habits? Maybe thats why I'm so tired these days- the internal work is incredibly exhausting.
All in all I think that has been the gift of this pregnancy (Estrella tells me that each pregnancy brings its own gift)- the courage to confront and embrace the possibility of change. Right now I'm more afraid of not changing. I want so much to be better than what I am.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Perfect Life

Well, baby shower plans are well under way, hosted by my good friend Dotty. I registered online, and was amazed by how easy it was. I selected 20 items, 18 of which are under $20. I was still amazed by how much stuff there is out there for babies. I can see a first time mama not knowing what or how to choose. The shower should be lots of fun. The Brits will be there to film it (they tell me they don't have this custom in England). I'm requesting a black bead from everyone to complete my labor necklace and I've asked folks to come prepared to share their births stories. I want the shower to be a time to think about birth and what it means in a woman's life experience.
I dreamed about the baby. I dreamed I got in trouble for leaving it in a cart at the grocery store, I just went home and forgot it! Does this tell you how nervous I am about how another baby will fit into our already overwhelmed lives? I can't imagine doing all that I do now with a baby in tow. I had 8 CPR classes this week, 5 of which I taught. The 18 year old is involved in campus ministry at his college, the 15 year old is very committed to his martial arts, the 12 year old is involved in intramural (after school) sports, the 11 year old wants to be in the school band, and the 8 year old is already lobbying hard for her SAG (screen actors guild) card. (We've managed to put her off with promises of acting camp next summer). Who do you think gets them to and from all these activities? We try very hard to narrow their selections to one or two activies each. We say no a lot. For instance, the 11 year old had to choose between band and choir, we couldn't let her do both. We would be stretched too thin, not to mention a lack of resources. We encourage the kids to do as much on their own as possible without looking to us for transportation or other assistance. We want the kids to have rich learning experiences but there are only two of us. I signed up to be room mother (again) for this year. I do want to be there for them while they still want my presence in grade school. My evenings are filled with homework monitoring (I don't even bother bringing home work from the office anymore) making dinner and then bedtime rituals. If my husband is home and not working a double shift, we take a walk together after dinner. Last night, the four older kids left for activities after dinner, so only the 8 year old was home to walk with us. As she and my husband walked hand in hand chatting it up, I trailed behind them with my pregnant waddle. They would stop ever so often to let me catch up. They talked about life after death, movie remakes, and her future acting career. I smiled and thought I wouldn't trade places with anyone in the whole wide world- my life is just perfect.