Parenting

A while back I was researching places to promote my blog and/or partner with and I came across a site called blogher.com, a community for women who blog.

I discovered many women there discussing important issues and sharing their voices.  I have contributed to these conversations on several occasions and was looking through my posts there the other day.  I found an old comment I left on a thread about doulas and felt like this may be an important story to share here.

This is my birth story.  Giving birth is one of the most rewarding and empowering things we can do as women.  But this story also reminded me how important it is to remember that it is our inner power that gives us the strength to complete such a wonderful and trying journey.  

We must always remember to nourish this inner strength  so that we remain these incredibly powerful women throughout the rest of our lives.  Raising great kids is going to take all the energy, courage and fortitude we can get our hands on.

Please excuse any spelling or grammer errors in the story below.  It was written in haste and without editing.

With and Without a Doula

I have had two completely different birthing experiences, one with a doula and one without.

The birth of my daughter was one of the most tramatic experiences of my life. For my entire prenatal period, I had a doctor that I loved and we had a very detailed plan that we had worked out together for months. Unfortunately, nothing would go as planned.

This is a good lesson in itself. No matter how well you plan, be just as prepared for nothing to go the way you think it will.

The thing is, when you go to a doctor that is part of a group, the chances that that doctor will deliver your baby is very low, unless you go into labor during office hours. I’m sure this has worked out fine for many women but for me, it was the middle of the night both times.

The doctor that was on call when I went into labor with my daughter was really unfortunate. My water had broke and labor was slow to start. I had had my appendix out six weeks earlier (yeah, 34 weeks pregnant and a totally different story) and she basically told me that I was high risk and would be treated as such, even though my doctor had told me as long as I had gone six weeks past surgery, I would be considered normal.

What this meant is that I was monitored the whole time and she only gave me a short period for labor to begin before she gave me pitocin. I just felt rushed and unsupported by her for my entire labor. I felt like she was just chomping at the bit to cut me open, not the most nurturing birthing environment.

My doula was very good at keeping me as calm as possible through this whole thing and keeping me informed of what was going on and why certain decisions were being made, but my anxiety level was very high and the pitocin contractions were extremely painful.

The short version of the story is that eventually, during pushing, my daughter started to dcell and then they lost her heartbeat. Then there was panic and rushing around and throwing of scrubs and I was screaming, it was terrible. When we got to the operating room, they hooked her up to the monitor and she was totally fine, but the doctor insisted on continuing with the c-section. While they were upping my epidural to the correct levels, I continued to push (as you can’t stop), with the help of my nurse and eventually, I took control and demanded that she let me try to push her out before she proceeds with the c-section as she was fully crowning and her heartrate was fine. She gave me three pushes and I was luckily able to push her out. The whole operating room broke out in cheers.

Although having a doula was a nice additive to my experience, she was not allowed in the operating room and was able to do little to prevent my bad experience. I am in no way saying that doulas can’t be a great help and I felt like my doula did a great job given the circumstances, but when it comes down to it, it is all about your own sense of power and peace and the relationship with your doctor.

I also give a ton of credit to my nurse. She was amazing and stayed with me through the end, even though her shift had ended. She empowered me and from working with that doctor (who it was pretty clear that most of the nurses didn’t like working with) many times before, she was knowledgable about how to deal with this doctor and helped me to get what I needed in spite of her.

In the end, my daughters birth was very empowering and she was healthy and beautiful and that is all the really matters.

When I got pregnant with my son, I took a totally different approach. I was determined that if I had anything to say about it, that doctor was never going to come anywhere near me again. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to leave my doctor, who I totally loved.

Having several experiences in the maternity ward at my hospital (my daughter’s birth and I spent a week there after my apendix operation), I was confident with the nursing care and quality of the facility.

For me, it really came down to finding the right practice. All the doctors in the practice must be on the same page as you when it comes to your needs during labor. With a group of doctors who share on call duties, you will never be sure of what doctor will be there to deliver your baby.

I was fortunate that I found a doctor I trusted and who would for sure deliver my baby the second time around. He has an individual practice and delivers 97% of his own babies. He goes on vacation once a year and as long as you aren’t due during that time, you can almost be certain he will be there with you.

My first birth was so dramatic and stressful that the second time, I just wanted calm. I wanted to enjoy the birthing experience and embrace motherhood in a way that I was denied the last time. I did end up choosing an epidural, but was not pressured or deterred in any way. This time around the decisions were mine, with the understanding that if things got really bad, he would have to take over. That I could live with.

I am very narrow through my pelvis and my babies are big and therefore, they have a little trauma coming through the birth canal. My son’s birth was no different in this matter, but I didn’t even really know anything was wrong. My doctor was calm and cool through the whole thing and found the perfect balance of telling me this was serious and I had to push with no resting, without making me feel scared at all.

My son was born healthy, happy, huge and in a hurry.

I am so glad that I have that experience as the freshest and most prominent in my mind.

I agree that birth done the wrong way can be increadibly tramatic and with lasting effects. I was so jumpy and scared going into it the second time.

But, I am glad that I took charge of my pregnancy and birthing experience and did what I needed to make sure I wasn’t in the same situation again.

My advice, find a doctor you trust in a practice that as a whole gels with your belief system and what you desire from your delivery. Take every opportunity you can to meet with as many of the doctors in the practice as you can and also make sure that the hospital you are going to has practices and rules that you agree with and a top notch nursing staff. If having your plan followed through on and your doctor there with you, then do your best to choose someone who delivers a very high percentage of their babies.

Ask questions, be up front with what you need and don’t be afraid to change course if necessary.

As far as doula’s go, after having one with me the first time, I didn’t feel it was necessary the second time. But, my husband was amazing during labor and I was confident enough the second time to be my own advocate and I trusted my doctor implicitly.

I think every birth and every individual is completely unique and doula’s can be an excellent resourse and a great help.

The Redesigned Mom

A Stay at Home Mom’s Journey to Self Fulfillment

Submitted by redesignedmom on Sat, 10/04/2008 – 14:40

Well,  as if  to smack me and remind me not to let my guard down, the universe threw me a doozy yesterday.  In a way, I think it was a test.

You see,  I pass out.  I pass out when I hurt myself.  I pass out when other people hurt themselves.  I pass out when people on TV hurt themselves (no ER – the TV show – for me).  I pass out when other people talk about hurting themselves.  I pass out when I work too hard and eat too little.  I even pass out for no apparent reason.  

It is some function of my low blood pressure, I think.  I don’t really know.  I am definately going to bring it up with my therapist and my doctor though because after yesterday, I need to do something.

Because of this, my worst fear as a parent is that something will happen to my kids and I won’t be able to help them.  
And this fear is not unjustified.  I have been lucky up until now that there has been someone there to help me.   

But yesterday, I was all by myself.  

I am not going to go into details about what happened because it just isn’t important to this story.  The short of it was that he hurt himself badly enough that I felt we needed to go to the ER and that he is just fine.  An x-ray and an ace bandage and he acts like nothing ever happened.  While he flirted with nurses, I quietly tried to calm myself and fight back the tears.

But I did it.  All by myself, without anyone to help me and without actually losing conciousness.  I did have to pull the car over once to avoid passing out and wrecking the car, but we got there.

I called Karli right after it happened and he left work immediately to meet me at the hospital.  I can’t even tell you how much I needed him right then.  I just kept telling myself that he would be there soon and I just had to make it a few more minutes.  Little did I know that he was stuck in traffic and wouldn’t arrive until we were leaving the hospital two hours later.   There was no phone service in the hospital so I wasn’t getting his calls and couldn’t send a text message.  I can’t imaging sitting in traffic, not knowing what was going on.  He was so scared.

But, the fact that it took him two hours to go a distance it should have taken him no more than 45 minutes to go in the worst traffic confirms that I was meant to go this one alone.

Although I think I passed the test, this was minor and there was no blood.  I can’t help but think what might have happened if… 

What I do know is that it is time for me to figure out why I do this and try to fix it if I can.  

The work never stops or even takes a break, huh?

The  December issue of Cooking Light
this very cool new product was highlighted.

Now, I haven’t tried it, but since I am such an advocate of making your own baby food and I thought this was something I would have loved to have, I just had to mention it. It is simply a very innovative and mention worthy new product. I love it when people think outside the box.

The Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker is the latest in baby food mills.

What’s different about this one is that you can put the food in and steam it and then when it is finished cooking, turn the blender on and blend it to the desired consistency right in the same container. You can also use it to defrost or warm the baby food when your done.

The one thing that stands out as a flaw in this product is the small bowl size (2.5 cups) If you wanted to make big batches to freeze, this could be a hinderance. But, if Super Baby Food or The Sneaky Chef is your thing, then this just may be the perfect new gadget for you.

More Baby Puree Recipe Books


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I just love this photo. It makes my heart melt a little to think about these kids growing up vacationing together. Excuse my sappiness, but this is what it is all about, building those unforgettable memories with others you truly care about.

I know, I know, he’s only 18 months old, but it was still very exciting.  After the whole poop in the tub incident, I have been watching Ian for signs that he may need to go potty while he is in the tub.  Well,  he grabs himself, of course.  So a couple of times while I was still a little jumpy, (understandably so, right?) I would pull him out of the tub and put him on the potty, because I had read on some forum somewhere that that had worked for someone.

Well,  lately he has been wanting to sit on the potty whenever he gets out of the tub.  He is also a total menace in the bathroom and he is getting old enough that the bathroom can’t just simply be off limits so I needed something to distract him away from all the no nos in the bathroom.  

The worst is the toilet brush.  Those brushes are nasty and I really wish there was some alternative.  I have been looking, but haven’t really found a suitable alternative.  I am going to start using baking soda and vinegar and see how it goes though because I just read way too much on the chemicals in toilet cleaners.

Oh yeah,  Ian and the potty.  

I decided that I would buy him his own little potty.  I put it in the bathroom and now he has something to do and concentrate on rather than the nasty toilet brush and flip up garbage can.  It has been working like a charm for the last two days.  Karli even got a great pic of him brushing his teeth on the potty this afternoon.

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I wasn’t really thinking about him actually using the potty.  He’s very little still after all.  But, tonight after his bath, he climbed out of the tub and went right over to his potty and sat down and refused to get up.  So, I sat down and started talking to him about using the potty and how if he needed to go potty, he could point it down and just go.  

After a few minutes I was ready to move on and trying to distract him with all sorts of talk of milk and stories and jammies. I finally coaxed him off the potty and lo and behold, there it was.  A significant puddle. Frenzy ensues.  Karli ran to get a bite of brownie from the kitchen (they get a treat for using the potty, right?) and I wrapped him in his towel and smothered him with kisses and praise.

Ahh,  there is a light.  He will eventually grow up and learn to do things for himself.  He will eventually learn how to follow some rules and take to some structure.  

A pretty cool moment, I have to say.

With one cutting canine teeth and the other finally realizing that her little brother is sticking around and will continue to take attention away from her, I find myself relishing the cute things they do.  If I didn’t, the whining and complaining and acting out might drive me into some deep dark level of madness.

But, they are just the cutest damn thing you have ever seen.  How he snuggles into my lap and takes my hand and rubs his head just how he likes it.  How she looks at me with those big blue eye and demands milk and then catches herself  “Can I please have some milk mama?”, she says with a sly smile.  How he spins around until he falls down and jumps up and down with the imagination movers.  How she is so proud of her extraordinary coloring skills.  How he curls up with Pella in the giant new dog bed.  How she scrunches up on the couch in the morning, her little bum sticking right up in the air.

I could go on and on and on and on.  They have this very special way of driving you crazy and melting your heart at the same time.  These are the times when I realize how much I love this job.

The recovery from postpartum depression is an interesting thing.  There it is, it’s out there.  I am suffering from depression.  My depression originated as a standard bout of mild to moderate postpartum depression.  

Often when we think of women suffering from post partum depression we think of Andrea Yates drowning her poor children in the bathtub, but it’s not like the the vast majority of the time.  There is a spectrum and I am very grateful that mine is on the mild to moderate end and feel greatly for those, including those I know, who are suffering or have suffered from more severe encounters with this ugly thing.

Mild to moderate postpartum depression can be hard to identify.  You are already exhausted and overwhelmed by the state of your life and so in the beginning you think that the symptoms are normal and you ignore them and this is just what I did and then it morphed into something more debilitating and which eventually resulted in a mild breakdown.

I couldn’t really see the depression for what it was at the time.  I even remember saying that I just didn’t understand why I felt the way I did, I wasn’t a depressed person. But I was.  As I look down the list of symptoms, it seems so obvious now.  

I find it really intriguing that looking back at the past year, I can see it all so clearly and how relieved I feel to finally have a name to put on what’s been going on with me.  Yet, when you are in the middle of it all, you just feel horrible and don’t for the life of you know what is causing it.

To talk about how I could barely get through the day, feed the kids and manage the minute by minute is a difficult and somewhat embarrassing thing.  But it was what it was.  It took every ounce of energy I had to do the most basic things and everything beyond that just didn’t get done.  This is how it started and then it progressed into paranoia and self-loathing of the sort I have never really experienced.  I felt like I was terrible at everything, that nobody cared about me and that I wasn’t worthy of anything positive.

As things started to get worse and worse, I knew something was wrong, but I just couldn’t fight my way out of it.  I tried to commit to things that would help me heal, inspire me and help me to reengage with the world, but I just couldn’t do it and then I would feel guilty and helpless and like I was letting everyone down, including myself. 

As a strong, intelligent, independent woman who has overcome and crawled out of some pretty dark spots in her life, it was very difficult for me to ask for help and I think this is why it went as far as it did.  But, sometimes a little breakdown is the best thing that can happen to a person.

There were a few things that finally broke the cycle for me and got me moving in the right direction and asking for help.   I ended a destructive relationship, which empowered me to stand up for myself and understand and communicate my needs.  I sought out therepy and was very picky about who to see.  I waited for the right person, connecting and being on the same page is really important. This is the person you need to share your darkest moments with, you better trust them implicitly.  

I also made a personal choice not to medicate.  This is a very personal decision and for me it was about finally facing my demons head on.  There are many things that I have learned to deal with or pushed aside throughout my life, but never really faced and integrated and learned from.  I felt that now was the time to do that so that I could move forward in my life on a more meaningful path.  I felt that medication would only impair the process for me.

My therapist discuuses my journey as two parallel paths.  There is the current situation with the depression and this involves a lot of talking and learning of tools to deal with the day to day.   And then there is the deeper issues (the demons so to speak) that I am trying to face and deal with.  For the latter, we are using a technique called Lifespan Integration.  This is where the timeline of my life originated and I will talk more about this technique at a later time.  

My goal is that those two paths will meet down the road and that I will be able to use all of the tools and knowledge to find a way to live a more fulfilled and full life, to become the person I want to be and to establish more meaningful and healthy relationships.

I have days now when I think to myself ‘wow, could it really have been that simple, I feel great, I must be cured’.  And then I have a day that reminds me that this is a journey and a process and that although I am feeling much better, there is still a lot of work to do.

Today is a bad day.  I am tired and uninterested and easily irritated and counting every minute until I can have just a minute of quiet to close my eyes and reflect on what is happening.  The good news is that I haven’t had one of these days in several weeks and that I can see it clearly for what it is. That doesn’t mean that I am not fighting it and managing it every second, but I can own it and know that it will pass and that I will feel better when it does.

A few months ago this day would have been the beginning of a downward spiral that may have lasted days to weeks and ended in my sobbing in the shower and scaring the crap out of my poor husband as I am reduced to puddle of self pity.  I’d say we’re making progress.

As stay at home parents we are in a unique situation.  Our job takes place in our homes without the presence of bosses or coworkers.  Yes, we have friends and family, but really the only people who we really interact with in our jobs are our kids.  And the only outside person who really sees us in our jobs is our spouse.

This creates a lack of job performance recognition.  I have been feeling undervalued lately.  This is a rough time for us and although we are very lucky and blessed in our life, we are struggling right now.   

Although it is a lot of pressure, all the responsibility for lifting me up and making me feel valued and validated falls on my husband and this is a little much for him, I think.  Unfortunately, there is no one else to help carry this burden.  It is his to bear, and I am sorry for that.

I tried to give him an analogy to help him to understand.  I asked him to imagine that he went to work every day and no one there ever said he was doing a good job.  It would be awful for him, and I think that it helped him to see the reality of the situation.  This is our job and validation for being good at our job is just as important for us as it is for anyone else.

Unfortunately, now that I have spoken about it, we now struggle with how to provide me with the support I need without his compliments or statements sounding contrived and trite.  

The great thing is that we can have this conversation at all.  I feel very fortunate that I feel safe enough and loved enough that I can say that I need more from him.  That says a lot about the strength of our relationship.  Many don’t have this situation and live alone with all this.

There is this catch 22 about being a stay at home parent.   At least for me, i feel guilty if I complain at all.  I made this choice and I am very grateful for it, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have hard days, days that I wish I could crawl into bed and not get out till next week.  When you have a job outside the home, you come home and discuss the things that are going well and the things that are hard at work.  But when I do, i feel guilty.  I feel guilty for not enjoying every moment with my children, guilty for complaining about a choice that has been a huge sacrifice for our family, guilty for wanting more for myself.  And in response I usually get the suggestion that I go back to work.

I don’t need to go back to work, I need two days by a pool with a foofy umbrella drink or ten.

It is impossible for those not staying home to fully understand the joys and trials that we face every day. There are moments of pure bliss and moments when you feel like you have completely lost all value and substance.  It is equally impossible for us to fully understand the stresses that working moms face trying to be and do it all and not feel like they are doing any of it very well.

The hard fact is that being a parent is hard.  It just is.

We need to support one another, husband and wife, parent and child, friend and friend.  We need to be compassionate and lift each other up and be there for each other, even if we aren’t all the same or make the same choices or parent the same way.  

Hugs and kisses and flowers and all that crap.

I have a confession to make.  I collect exercise paraphernalia.  I am one of those people.  I see some new piece of exercise equipment or workout video and I fall right into it’s trap and before you know it, it is in my living room.   Yes, I even had a Tony Little Gazelle at one point.  I’m so ashamed.  It’s a good thing my house isn’t bigger or things might get ugly.

I have made a vow that at some point I am going to create the ultimate workout, incorporating them all.  Maybe it will make me millions.  I could make quite the circuit workout using the circular floor plan of my house. Hmmm, that’s a thought.

In the meantime, I have just discovered an alternative and fantastic use for all this crap.  This morning I pulled out the mini trampoline, which I actually do use while watching tv.  It’s fun, what can I say.

By the way, have you caught the The Starter Wife mini series that led to the new tv series on USA.  I ran across it Monday morning by accident and I have to say, I really like it.  I think I am going to tivo the series even though I can’t imaging having more TV I feel obligated to watch.  No wonder I’m so fat.

Anyway, I digress.  So,  I am making lunch for the kids after preschool today and all of a sudden the wining for food and milk and crackers and “I’m hungry” and “When’s lunch” etc.  came to a halt and all I could hear was laughing coming from the living room.

This, I had to check out.  What did I find?  Ian was happily bouncing on the mini trampoline and Ada had turned over the Bosu Ball in the trampoline’s spot in the corner and was balancing, struggling, falling off and trying again.  I also saw the pilates ball that they love to roll around and chase, usually leading to them chasing each other and the bands which make for great, if not a little dangerous, tug of war ropes.  It was a little bit of an aha moment.

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This stuff may go to good use after all.  See, I live in Seattle and if you know nothing else about Seattle, you probably know that it rains a lot here.  And I mean a lot.  It is cloudy and dreary and a stay inside day here more days than not.  Why do we live here?  You got me?  No really,  there are lots of really great things about living in Seattle, the weather just isn’t one of them.

Anyway,  heading into the winter months with small kids has to have all Seattle moms a little nervous.  Without the backyard or neighborhood park at our disposal, how do you keep the kids and yourself from going completely stir crazy?  Well, I think that I may have just found myself a solution.

The exercise equipment playground has erected itself in our living room.  A little messy?  yeah.  A little rambunctious?  Yeah, but just for a little while and the tired satisfied look of children that just had a good romp and now are ready for a nice long nap is priceless and worth an hour of chaos any day.

And you know the best part? I can’t wait to play with them.  Exercise and family fun for everyone. Ahhhh.

That’s right, I said poop. And oh, I would have given my left foot for it to have been the notorious floater.

We just returned from a weekend at Karli’s parents in Idaho so travel, and all the foods eaten this weekend that were outside of his norm, just put his bms on the fritz.

Have you got a good image yet? Yeah, chunky, loose, undigested food, the whole thing. Nasty.

Now, I have no poop aversion. I have two kids. You don’t have kids without getting over poop being gross, but I have to say this was the worst, most disgusting thing I have had to do in a very long time.

I can’t even go into the details, it just shouldn’t be said out loud.

Karli just looked over at me and asked me what the grimace on my face was all about. I guess it still curls my nose.

Gotta say though, the tub’s never been so clean.