December 10, 2008

Whatever you want, it’s yours.

Posted in I Wanna Talk About Me tagged , at 5:34 pm by junecleaverwouldbeshocked

I love my children. I do.

And I would never use the phrase “I’d sell my soul” about anything, because I absolutely would not.

But I would give anything else for ONE DAY away from them both, and I do mean ANYTHING.

You want my house, my van, my TV? Fine. Need a kidney? I have a spare. Public humiliation? I think I could handle it.

But oh my gosh, if they don’t go away and leave me alone, just for a little while (because I would surely miss them after that), I am going to lose my mind.

Just one more way that I am certainly no June Cleaver. SHE was always thrilled to see her boys. But then, they went to school and left her alone all day. Come to think of it, if she were me, I bet she’d be a bit more frazzled too.

December 9, 2008

One year ago today…

Posted in Baby Talk, Happy (Insert Holiday Here) tagged , , , at 4:57 am by junecleaverwouldbeshocked

It was Friday, December 7, 2007 – ten days past my due date of November 27, and I was rapidly approaching miserable. I was supposed to go visit my midwives that morning, and had every intention of begging them to do something to help coax my stubborn little girl into the world. All week, I had been upset and weepy, on top of hormonal/evil and the mommy guilt that comes along with that. And my back hurt. And it hurt to sit, stand and lie down. In short, I was over being pregnant and ready to meet my little cupcake.

My plans to beg for help were nixed by the weather, though – while it wasn’t doing anything at home, there were reports of sleet, freezing rain and snow between my home and Tomi’s, my senior midwife. My mom had called to tell me about all of the accidents being reported on the radio, so I decided it would be best not to risk it, and called Alicia (my main midwife) at home. She agreed that we should postpone the visit, and said that she and Tomi would come to me on Monday morning if baby hadn’t arrived already. The thought of enduring another weekend with no baby was nearly too much to bear, so I explained how I’d been feeling and asked if she had any suggestions. Although she wasn’t worried – or even eager to discuss alternatives before the 42 week mark, which would be the following Tuesday – she told me to research and decide for myself about a castor oil induction, although she would not specifically tell me to or not to try it.

I was online in a matter of minutes for a refresher course, and it didn’t take me long to call dear sweet hubby at work and tell him he’d be picking up some castor oil on his way home.

I mixed a concoction consisting of two ounces each castor oil and orange juice after dinner, and somehow choked it down just before 7 p.m. – all the while remembering how I had tried the same thing with Princess, only to spend a miserable evening in the restroom with no baby to show for it in the end. I had vowed that I would never do the castor oil thing again. But I did…and then I waited. I fully expected for it to do what castor oil is intended to do, but never did find myself running for the bathroom. Instead, the contractions I had already been having off and on for weeks started to become more frequent; this was apparent by 10:30, when I started to pay attention to how far apart they were. By 11:30, they were five minutes apart – and a trip to the bathroom scared me when there was bright red blood on the toilet paper. I called Alicia and confessed to my castor oil experiment. She told me that the blood only meant cervical changes, and that the contractions would probably begin to space a little further apart before becoming any closer, and asked me to call her back around 1 a.m. with an update. In the meantime, she said, she would load up her car and get a bit of sleep.

After talking with her, I told DH to start straightening up the living room and making sure everything was ready. After panicking for a few minutes, he did – and then laid down on the couch to sleep until I had something new to report. I decided to take a quick shower – both to be nice and clean in case this was the real deal, and to let the water help relax me during the contractions. That didn’t exactly work. The water felt nice, but once in the shower, my contractions started coming closer together – every two or three minutes until I got out. By 1:00, they were so strong that I had to stop everything to get through them, and they were still no more than five minutes apart (and usually closer.) Alicia said she would pick up Sam, my doula, and head our way. It’s about a two hour drive from her house to mine, so I figured she’d be here around 3 and decided to get some rest.

Lying down was horrific. There was not a comfortable position to be had. I finally settled on the glider rocker in our bedroom, rocking and breathing through the contractions and dozing in between. I had to get up to find a blanket (I was freezing) and then to run for the bathroom during a sudden wave of nausea. I sat and sat and sat and the contractions stayed consistent at about three minutes apart – alternating between difficult but bearable, and truly painful. I kept checking my watch to be sure they weren’t becoming any closer…and finally started wondering what had happened to my midwives. 3:00 came, then 3:30, then 3:45… The contractions were becoming so painful that I finally gave up on letting DH sleep until they arrived – I waddled out into the hallway and told him that I needed my birthing pool, and he should start inflating it about ten minutes ago. And that I wanted some grapes, which he promptly fetched.

Not being familiar with the area – and having only been to our house a couple of times – Alicia had gotten a little lost on the way. She and Sam finally arrived around 4 a.m. and came upstairs to check on me. Seeing that I was doing okay, they headed back downstairs to start bringing their things in from the car. DH had inflated the pool and put it in the living room, but rather quickly ran into a problem – our water heater wasn’t up to the task of filling a huge pool with warm water. He filled as much as he could, then stopped to wait for the water to heat back up. Meanwhile, Alicia and Sam set to work in the kitchen, boiling water in every pot and pan they could find to help fill up the pool. I felt vaguely sorry for them, having to come here in the middle of the night to boil water and haul it from kitchen to pool – I hate inconveniencing people – but I wasn’t able to concentrate on that for long.

Around 5:30, they came to check on me again – it was hard to talk to them since I had to stop and breathe through nearly constant contractions. Alicia attempted to listen to the baby’s heartbeat without making me move from the rocker, but couldn’t find a good spot in that position, so I moved to the bed. Her heart was pounding away just perfectly, slowing ever so slightly during a contraction. Since I was already on the bed, she asked if I wanted her to check for dilation before I got into the pool to let the water help with the pain. For months, I had been worrying about this first internal exam – Alicia had become more friend than care provider, and I was so sure it would be awkward and strange. Thankfully, labor dulled that a bit, and it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. She checked quickly and told me that I was dilated to six centimeters.

It was 6 a.m. when I went downstairs and got into the pool. I expected to feel a huge difference, having read over and over about water being “the midwife’s epidural” and how much easier the contractions would be once in the pool. Not so much for me – they felt about the same, but at least I had the novelty of being in a pool in my living room to distract me! Finding a comfortable position was difficult – sitting down on the inflated bottom of the pool felt nice, but didn’t seem to be conducive to having a baby. Ultimately, I ended up on my hands and knees – alternating between rocking (hoping to help open up the pelvic area) and clinging to the side of the pool, talking with Alicia (who was sitting in the floor by the pool) between contractions.

I had only been in the water a short time when the nausea returned. I told Alicia and Sam that I was going to be sick, and Sam got right up to search for a trash can. None in the living room, so she headed to the kitchen. She was still there when I couldn’t hold it back any longer – and despite that, I can still see clearly what happened next. Sam grabbed a plastic bowl off of the counter and, as if in slow motion, sprinted across the kitchen and into the living room, bowl held in front of her at arm’s length, reaching the pool just in time that I didn’t make a huge mess on the carpet. (While this was remarkable in the moment, it’s downright hilarious in retrospect. Maybe you had to be there, but the sight of Sam running with the bowl is one that I’ll always remember when thinking of Boogie’s birth.) The midwives were even encouraging about my being sick – “get it all out”, they told me, “that’s a good sign, means things are moving!” I loved having my own personal cheering section that thought everything I did was wonderful!

Once that was over, DH came to kneel in the floor by the pool so I could hold onto him. It didn’t seem like I’d been in the pool any time at all before I started feeling like I needed to push through the contractions. I tried to ignore the feeling, thinking that if Alicia had just checked me, and I was only at six centimeters, that there was no way it was time to push yet. There couldn’t possibly be room for a baby to come out yet, and I’d surely kill myself trying. But after a couple of contractions, I told Alicia what I was feeling and she told me that if I felt the urge, to go ahead and push through them. Her ‘permission’ (so to speak) was all that I needed – with the very next one, I started bearing down.

And, I think, with the one after that, I started yelling. I hate to admit it, as I had been envisioning a calm, quiet, peaceful birth in the water…but that’s not exactly how it happened. As her head started descending – rapidly, it seemed – I got louder and louder. I remember thinking “oh no, I’m going to wake Princess up and scare her half to death”, but I couldn’t stop. This was also the point where I remember wondering just why having my baby naturally seemed like a good idea, quickly reminding myself why it was a good idea, and mentally telling myself that this was not going to last much longer and was for a very good cause. All of these thoughts must have run through my mind in a hurry, because they occurred in the time between two contractions, and that wasn’t very far at all by this point.

Knowing that it wouldn’t be long before my little girl arrived, Alicia encouraged me to get into a squatting position in the water so that I could catch my baby. I moved, and was so surprised when I reached down and felt the spongy, squishy top of her little head. I was trying not to cry when I told DH, “I can feel her head, it’s right there!” Squatting through the contractions just didn’t work for me, though – my balance isn’t great on a good day, and I quickly found myself back on my hands and knees in the water.

About this time was when Princess’s bedroom door opened and she came out into the hallway. I think I was the first to realize that she was awake, and told DH. He headed upstairs with the phone in hand, to shepherd her back into her room and call his dad to come and pick her up until everything was over. Sam asked if I would rather have DH nearby, and offered to go up and help Princess get dressed; I wasn’t sure how she would react to that, having only met Sam once, but I knew that I wanted DH – so up Sam went. In just a moment, she was back – and she wasn’t alone. I later learned that Princess told her she wanted to come downstairs and see her mommy. Sam told her that the baby was coming and that I might be making some funny noises, but Princess said that was okay, and down they came.

Meanwhile, DH had returned to the side of the pool and I was still pushing. It seems like only five or six contractions had passed from the time that Alicia told me it was okay to push if I felt the urge – and I could certainly tell where my baby’s head was by the fiery sensation.

Princess reached the side of the pool at 7:04 a.m. on Saturday, December 8, and just a few seconds later, I felt the same thing I had felt when she was born – that wonderful relief of the baby’s head coming free, and the rest of her body following it out. I looked down into the water to see my baby float quickly forward into my reach; I sat back and picked her up out of the water and onto my chest. My sweet little Boogie was finally here, and her big sister got to witness her birth.

She started breathing immediately, and her skin turned quickly from a gray-ish color into a healthy pink. I sat in the water with her for a while, holding her close, still wet but wrapped in a receiving blanket, rubbing her back. Sam remarked later that babies born in the water usually take a little while to start breathing regularly, and that she had never seen one start breathing as quickly and effortlessly as mine. She fussed a little, but didn’t really cry. She was alert and content from the beginning.

They helped me out of the water after a few minutes, and into my favorite chair (lined with waterproof pads, of course.) My new little girl latched on and nursed like a pro at just thirteen minutes old. A bit later, Alicia clamped her cord and DH cut it. He took his new daughter while the midwives helped me upstairs and into the bathroom, where the placenta was delivered. I took a quick shower, got dressed, and headed for bed.

The senior midwife, Tomasina, had arrived while I was in the shower. Alicia had been waiting to call her when it was close to time for me to give birth; no one had anticipated that it would happen so quickly once I got into the pool! Tomi held my baby while I got situated, and then they weighed and measured her – my sweet baby girl was 9 pounds and 6 ounces, and 19” long. Her APGAR scores were 8, 10 and 10. In short, she was simply perfect. wub.gif

December 5, 2008

A post inspired by song lyrics.

Posted in Things I Think About tagged , , , , , , at 5:51 am by junecleaverwouldbeshocked

I just walked down the street to the coffee shop –
Had to take a break, I’d been by her side for eighteen hours straight.
I saw a flower growing in the middle of the sidewalk,
Pushing up through the concrete like it was planted right there for me to see.
The flashin’ lights, the honkin’ horns all seemed to fade away;
In the shadow of that hospital at 5:08, I saw God today.

Atheism is a difficult concept for me to wrap my mind around. I understand why some people turn their backs on God – this isn’t an easy world to live in. There’s so much evil, so much loss, so much sadness, so much hurt. Even if you’re reasonably privileged, even if you’re a really good person – no one is exempt from the hard knocks that this life has to offer. There have certainly been instances in my own life when I’ve questioned God, when I’ve been angry with Him, when I’ve told him that something was horribly unfair. I’ve had to remind myself that He is in control, that He won’t give me anything that I can’t handle. That despite the hurts, I have been incredibly blessed.

But for someone to believe – really, truly believe, that there is no God, that just boggles my mind. To believe that this entire planet is the result of a freak explosion, a random occurrence, a mishap – entirely unintentional, just happenstance. To view a breathtaking landscape and think that no one had a hand in it. To gaze into the heavens and not know that you are just a tiny piece of something greater.

I saw a couple walking by, they were holding hands –
Man, she had that glow –
Yeah, I couldn’t help but notice she was starting to show.
I stood there for a minute takin’ in the sky, lost in that sunset
A splash of amber melted into shades of red…

It especially baffles me when it’s a mother who doesn’t believe in God. The very physics of pregnancy is amazing…one day, you’re just you – the next, you’re you plus a living, growing human hidden deep inside. You watch your body grow and change, you see this child on the ultrasound screen, eventually you even watch him or her moving around beneath your skin. And then one day, given the chance, your body does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and you’re holding a brand new person that wasn’t there before…

I got my face pressed up against the nursery glass –
She’s sleeping like a rock,
My name on her wrist, wearing tiny pink socks.
She’s got my nose, she’s got her mama’s eyes,
My brand new baby girl –
She’s a miracle…
I saw God today.

This part of the song chokes me up every time. Twice in my lifetime, I have been fortunate enough to carry a pregnancy to term, to dream and hope and wonder about the little person growing inside me. Twice I’ve held tiny, pink newborn baby girls, damp and sticky and perfect, and marveled at their little faces, fists, feet. Twice I’ve looked at brand new people, full of all of the possibility this life has to offer, and known a love that I have never, ever known before. And twice I’ve known that I was allowed to take part in a miracle. A cell from my body and a cell from his may have been used in the mechanics of it all, but I could no more create a beautiful new life of my own doing than I could jump up and grab a piece of moon.

How could any mother – especially a new mother, holding her brand new baby – not look into that child’s eyes and not know that she was looking at the face of God?

I’ve been to church, I’ve read the book,
I know He’s here but I don’t look
Near as often as I should –
Yeah, I know I should.
His fingerprints are everywhere,
I’d just slowed down to stop and stare –
Opened my eyes and man, I swear,
I saw God today.

December 1, 2008

I would be NAK, but I type faster with two hands.

Posted in Baby Talk, Things That Tick Me Off tagged , , , at 4:32 pm by junecleaverwouldbeshocked

Something recently happened on my favorite mommy forum that really burned my bottom. A good friend posted a link to the horrifying revelations about melamine in infant formula that is now surfacing in the U.S. Missed that story? Here’s a recap: babies in China have been dying because of melamine in formula. Our FDA slammed those formula manufacturers, mandating that there is no safe level of melamine for human consumption. Weeks later – surprise! There’s melamine in U.S. formula too. “Trace amounts”, but that’s still melamine. (There are “trace amounts” of mercury left in vaccines too, and look at all the damage that it’s still capable of.) The FDA quickly changed their tune, stating now that this amount of melamine is safe. And then – wonder of wonders – it’s revealed that the FDA is simply covering their giant lying arses, as they’ve known about the melamine for some time now, but preferred to go to the formula manufacturers with the news rather than alerting the poor, unsuspecting formula-feeding public that they’re happily shoving poison down their babies’ throats.

So, this was the news story that was posted. Just a link – not the full detail as I’ve shared it here, although I did (somewhat more nicely) share more of the details myself. Needless to say, this horribly offended at least one formula-feeding mommy, who promply reported the post and had it closed. God forbid actual facts be shared that stomp on her decision to use formula. Other mommies certainly don’t deserve to know. She (whoever she is) should never, ever be reminded that there is anything wrong with her decision to use formula.

I’ll admit, I am a lactivist in the truest sense of the word. I breastfed my first daughter until past her second birthday. She was supplemented with formula when she was less than a month old, when I had to have surgery, and I will never forget the pain of lying in that hospital bed watching my mom and husband shoving that bottle of nasty pseudo-milk into my poor, defenseless baby’s face. That hurt so much more than the pain from the gallstones. Thank goodness she was only too happy to be done with the bottle and have her mommy back when all was said and done. Boogie has never, ever tasted formula and, one week shy of her first birthday, I dare say now that she never will. I breastfeed because it’s what’s best for my children – best for all children – and yes, it offends me that people choose not to breastfeed for selfish reasons. Some women can’t, just can’t, and I respect that (and feel sorry for them, and in some cases, wonder if they did everything that they could…) It’s the ones who just plain don’t want to breastfeed, don’t want the commitment, don’t want to be tied to their baby, want freedom from their baby, are worried about sagging boobs, etc. – that I have a very hard time finding ample respect for. Motherhood is nothing but one big commitment, and a commitment to always do the absolute best that you can for your baby at that.

Is breastmilk really better? You bet your bippy it is. Want to know why?

  • It is nature’s perfect food for a baby (this is why it forms in your breasts during pregnancy and comes in just after your baby is born. It ain’t coincidence, people.) It contains *exactly* what your baby needs in terms of fat, sugar, water and protein, and changes to meet baby’s nutritional needs as your baby grows. Can formula do that? I think not.
  • Breastmilk is much easier for a baby to digest than formula. A baby’s digestive system isn’t fully formed – thus the sometimes alarming amount of spit-up. Just compare the consistencies of formula to breastmilk – formula is thick, almost like gravy, whereas breastmilk is thin and watery. Even adults reach for thinner liquids if they have an upset stomach – it just settles more easily. The same is true for babies.
  • Breastfeed babies are less likely to be overweight later in life – although they do tend to be chunkier as babies. And chunky babies are just darned cute.
  • Breastfed babies are healthier – they receive so many awesome antibodies from mama’s milk, and as a result are less likely to have colds, ear infections and respiratory illnesses. Some studies suggest that infants who are not breastfed have higher rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first year of life, and higher rates of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, overweight and obesity, high cholesterol and asthma. Also, infants who are not breastfed have a 21% higher postneonatal infant mortality rate in the U.S. 21%, people. You could reduce your baby’s chance of death by 21%, just by feeding them the food that God intended.
  • No bottles and nipples to sterilize. Not only are they just a general pain in the arse, but do a quick Google search about BPA in bottles. Yet another chemical that you could spare your baby from, were you so inclined. Breastmilk is always available, sterilized and at the perfect temperature – I dare you to explain to me how bottles are more convenient!
  • It’s not just about nutrition – breastfeeding equals bonding, and bonding with your baby is a very, very good thing.
  • Why throw your money away on sub-par nutrition for the most important little person in your life? Breastmilk is not only far superior, but it’s free.
  • Last but not least – breastfed babies are prettier. Nope, I’m not just biased – Google that too. Studies have found that breastfeeding promotes the development of a well-shaped jaw and (later on) straight teeth. Sucking on a bottle as opposed to a breast are, after all, very different techniques. Don’t hate my baby because breastfeeding helped her become even more beautiful.

There are plenty of benefits to be had for the breastfeeding mother, as well – less blood loss after childbirth, faster weight loss, delayed return of ovulation and menstruation, increased protection against osteoporosis and ovarian and breast cancers, and that awesome hormone prolactin, which has the potential to just bliss you out while nursing.

If knowing all of the benefits of breastfeeding doesn’t inspire you to at least give it a try, then nothing will. Even if you try and decide to stop later on, any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial to your baby – even the colustrum produced before your milk comes in is full of antibodies and helps prevent jaundice.

However, if you just don’t care…well, I can’t make you. If second-best (which isn’t nearly good enough) is okay for the precious little gift you’ve been given, okay. But don’t think that the formula you’re feeding your baby is good for them – it provides essential nutrients, sure, but it also provides things you probably wouldn’t otherwise choose to put into your baby’s body. And even though some formulas claim to be “the most like breastmilk”, there isn’t a formula made that will boost your baby’s immune system the way that breastmilk does.

Second-best is not, and never will be, good enough for my children. So formula-feed if you must, but know that you are going to read things about formula that will make you uncomfortable. Know that you can cry “I’m offended!” all you want, but that it still won’t change the facts. Know that you can have one post closed, but you will not stop me from talking about how wonderful breastfeeding is. And know that if you have another child someday, the choice is yours to do so much better next time…