Monday, June 30, 2008

This makes everything all better...

Baby's gotta eat

At the last Holistic Mother's Network meeting, we discussed breastfeeding in public and how many mothers--especially mothers whose babies are older than one year--feel like they can't breastfeed in public because it makes other people nervous. At work on Friday Shelly asked how the meeting went, and as I was telling her a little bit about that conversation, another co-worker piped up that mother should ONLY breastfeed in public IF they are covered up. She said breastfeeding mothers who don't cover themselves up with some kind of wrap or blanket when they fed their babies in public aren't being respectful of the people around them.

I'm sorry, what?!? The more I think about this conversation, the more upset I get. Breastfeeding mothers should not have to feel ashamed or cover themselves up in order to make someone else feel more comfortable. The majority of breastfeeding mothers I know will cover themselves up because of their own modesty, but, to make others feel more comfortable, they won't even feed their babies in public. They'll retreat to their cars or their homes, revolving every daily activity around making sure they get home in time to feed their babies. How completely unfair. This co-worker was adamant in pointing out that, even though it's used to feed a hungry child, it's still a BREAST and should be covered up.

Well, excuse me, but no it's not. I haven't thought of my breasts as anything but a life source for my baby for the past two months. And they'll probably cease to be anything but for as long as I am nursing. And it's unfortunate that formula feeding moms aren't looked at twice when they sit down in a public place to feed their babies, but breastfeeding moms are. We shouldn't have to run home or retreat to our cars to feed our babies so that no one within a three-mile radius will run the risk of being offended. Breastfeeding is a healthy, natural choice, often requiring a great deal of sacrifice on the mother's part, and the women who make it shouldn't feel ashamed of it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A case of the Mondays

It took exactly four days for me to realize I hate working. I started last Monday, and Monday and Tuesday I actually had quite a bit of energy and managed to remain in a good moon, despite desperately missing my little man. Wednesday, my energy started to wane, and by Thursday I was done. Completely exhausted. I don't even remember Friday. I'm sure it will get better, I'll learn to function on less sleep, but I'm not sure I'll ever stop wishing I could be at home full-time. The other thing I hate? Pumping. But it only took about a day for that realization to sink in. Pumping sucks! I hate doing it. I bitched all week about it, like I'm the only mother who's ever gone to work and had to pump. I've been very blessed to have good friends (thank you Jennifer and Shelly), who are also working/nursing mothers, give me good advice about how to relax, get more milk and basically deal with the fact that pumping sucks. I also got a reality check--a friend's baby was born five weeks (? I think) prematurely and, after been given bottles since birth, never took to nursing, so his wife has been pumping for FIVE MONTHS. That is amazing to me. I need to borrow a little of her will and tenacity because she is truly, truly amazing for making such a personal sacrifice in order to provide the best nourishment possible for her baby. I'm not sure I would be so dedicated. It's only been a week and all I've done is complain. I do try to think of her, though, whenever I get discouraged and want to set my pump on fire. I also try to remind myself that it's only been a week. Hopefully it will get better.

The worst part about working is getting home and realizing how little time I have left in the day to spend with my Isaac Man. I tried to do as little as possible last week every day after work. I put off most chores except cooking dinner and doing laundry (when we finally start to run out of clean clothes) so I could spend as much time as possible with my Little Man. I know there are plenty of women out there--better, stronger women--who work, mother and manage to keep the house clean, and I hope someday to be one of them. One day at a time, I try to tell myself. I'm sure I'll figure out how to juggle it all, but, for now, I'll sacrifice the dishes for a few extra minutes with my Man.

Aah, the baby weight. Until now, I haven't worried too much about trying to lose the baby weight. Half of what I gained came off in the first two weeks, what with the removal of my almost 10-pound baby and the fluid and everything that came along with him. I've got 30 more to go, but I haven't been stressing about it because I'd rather focus my energy on loving my son. And, it's only been two months. I am, though, starting to get a little sick of wearing maternity jeans. It's getting to the point where the maternity pants are too big, but I still don't fit into anything I wore pre-pregnancy. And I bought a pair of jeans the other day that were about three sizes bigger than I'm used to wearing, and, although the size didn't bother me too much, the loose skin around my middle did. The maternity jeans camouflage it well, which may be one of the reasons it never bothered me before now. I think I'm ready to shed some of this weight now. I got a book Shelly recommended me, but I haven't started reading it yet. Maybe it'll be a miracle book and I'll be back to my old size in a matter of weeks. :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

HMN and the Homebirth Right

Parenting Group Denounces AMA Resolution Against Homebirth

Members of the Holistic Moms Network Say Homebirth is a Safe Choice And Must Remain a Legal Right

Caldwell, NJ – The Holistic Moms Network (HMN), a national non-profit organization with 130 chapters across the United States, is deeply troubled by the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) adoption of Resolution 205, which calls for legislation to establish hospitals and hospital birthing centers as “the safest settings” for labor, delivery, and post partum recovery.

The Resolution - introduced by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) – warns of potentially deadly complications during delivery and implies that only hospital-based midwives practicing under physician control should be certified to attend births. The Resolution is seen by HMN, professional midwives, and birth choice advocates as an attempt to eradicate homebirth.

“A blanket resolution against homebirth as a policy not only neglects centuries of women’s experiences and the inner wisdom of mothers who know and understand their ability to birth naturally, but it ignores credible research supporting the safety of planned homebirths,” says Dr. Nancy Massotto, HMN’s Executive Director who birthed both of her sons at home.

Indeed, numerous studies in the U.S., Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and Holland, have established the safety of planned homebirths for healthy low-risk women. Planned homebirths with qualified providers have also been found to result in a large reduction in the use of medical interventions including C-sections, labor-inducing drugs, use of forceps and vacuum extraction, and the often traumatic separation of mother and baby during postpartum recovery. Dozens of HMN mothers have had homebirths and many are angry about the AMA’s resolution.

“Women should have a right to decide how and where they give birth,” said Kasey Errico of HMN New Jersey. Errico says that, even though she was attended by a midwife in a more progressive hospital for the birth of her first child, she still had her water broken and was given pitocin, a drug used to augment labor. She says the homebirth of her second child was a “life-changing experience.”

When asked why they chose homebirth, most HMN members said they wanted to be able to choose where to birth; to have the freedom to move around; to eat or drink if they wanted to; to have the support of people close to them; to be in the comfort, privacy, and safety of their homes; and avoid unnecessary interventions.

Chantal Wilford an HMN Sarasota, Florida Chapter Co-Leader, birthed her second child - an 11 pound 6 ounce boy, in water after just 7 hours of labor. She has had three homebirths in three different states. “All three births were wonderful, powerful, unique experiences that my husband and I both treasure,” says Wilford.

Indeed, for HMN members who delivered their babies at home, adjectives like “empowering,” “beautiful,” “peaceful,” “amazing,” “safe,” and “wonderful” are commonly used to describe their experiences. Many mothers, like Michelle Sanders of HMN Bloomington, Indiana and Jenn Tardy of HMN Monterey, California, were so inspired by their own homebirth experiences that they decided to become midwives themselves. Amy Meister-Stetson of HMN Seattle became a childbirth educator “to instill the confidence and knowledge in other women that they can birth without unwanted interventions.” Wilford became a Bradley instructor and midwife’s assistant so she could encourage others to take charge of their birth experiences.

“The AMA resolution is very damaging to women,” says Wilford. “Women should feel empowered and encouraged to take charge of their birth experiences, not have their choices restricted,” she says.Kristin Rahn, an HMN member in Fort Wayne, Indiana who had a planned home water birth last year says she is “absolutely appalled by the AMA’s stance on homebirth.”

Meister-Stetson who had a planned water birth 4 years ago says she is “offended” by the AMA’s statement that hospital births are “safe,” pointing out that despite having more neonatologists and neonatal intensive care units than any country in the developed world, the U.S. has the second highest newborn death rate, behind South Korea and Cuba.

The U.S. C-section rate - at 31% - is at an all-time high and, just last August, The Washington Post reported that “a jump in Caesarean sections are partly to blame” for the highest maternal mortality rate in decades.

“Granted, there is a time and a place for medical intervention in birth,” states Meister-Stetson. “No doubt about it; many lives have been saved.” And many HMN members welcome conventional antepartum care. Aleksandra Mihajlovic of New Jersey opted for ultrasounds and amniocentesis before her planned homebirth which was attended by a midwife and two assistants. But many believe that the AMA and ACOG’s resolution is an attempt to medicalize what should be a natural process. They point to the increasing number of hospitals that won’t allow women to have VBACs – vaginal births after Cesareans – thereby setting them up for more C-sections which, according to a recent government study, may mean more complications.

In South Carolina, licensed midwives won’t attend VBACs because they have been counseled against it by the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Environmental Control. Nikki DeSalvo-Amick of HMN South Carolina, herself a doula and midwifery student, had to look for a midwife from another state that would attend her VBAC. She traveled four hours each way for prenatal visits to a midwife willing to assist her. The Business of Being Born - a documentary about the medicalization of birth in America cited in the AMA Resolution - highlights womens’ increasing dissatisfaction with the hospital birth experience.

“The only way that birth is going to improve in terms of outcomes and satisfaction with the experience, is when families start to take responsibility for their births, but I can’t see how that’s going to happen when the choices are limited,” says DeSalvo-Amick.

“As holistic families, we may make non-traditional choices,” says DeSalvo-Amick, “but as Americans, it should be our right to exercise those choices.”

Happy Two-Month Birthday, Little Man

It's hard to believe two months have already passed since you first came into the world. In some ways, it doesn't seem like much time has passed at all. In others, two months seems like such a long time ago. You've changed so much every day and we've gotten to know each other so well, that neither of us seems to be the same person we were April 24. Those early weeks, comprised of long nights spent crying and nursing and crying some more, wondering what the heck I was doing and if I was doing anything right at all, seem so far away now, almost vague at times. I've gained so much confidence as a mother just over the past few weeks, and your smiles, laughs and coos have all encouraged me in my journey through mommyhood. And what a personality you have! I love just talking and laughing with you and watching you grow, literally right before my eyes. I feel like I've known you all my life, and I can't imagine what I ever did without you. And yet, I learn more and more about you every day. I am so grateful that God gave you to me and I look forward to all of the days, weeks, months and years ahead that I will get to guide you and watch you become the little man you will be in life. I only hope they don't pass by too quickly and that I remember to cherish each moment we have!

Thanks, Shelly

She helped me realize yesterday that I'm kind of an idiot and these elusive "bed rails" that baffled me so are probably the same that Wal-Mart or Target or anyone would carry for toddler beds. Duh. John and I kind of decided, though, what we really need is a bigger bed. Last night, John fell asleep on the couch, which was pretty convenient since, and I'm still not sure how it happened, Isaac and I kept scooting toward the middle of the bed. I don't know if I was moving and he was following me, or if he was pushing me in that direction, but every time I woke up we had somehow migrated from our side of the bed to the smack dab middle.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Glory, Hallelujah

For the past two nights, Isaac has slept more than five hours at one time. Saturday night we fell asleep together at 11:15pm and didn't wake up until 5:45am. Last night, the night before my fateful return to work, we actually went to bed at 9:30pm! We were up again an hour later, but then we went to sleep again at 11pm and woke up at 4:30am. I couldn't believe it. I said, "Thank you, thank you, little man." I certainly don't expect this to happen every night, since I know his sleeping patterns will fluctuate, but it certainly was a gift to get an extra few hours of sleep the two nights before I had to go to work.

We've started co-sleeping with Isaac, mostly out of necessity and desperation. One night last week he woke up nearly every hour, and I finally just took him out of his cradle, which is next to the bed, and laid down with him on the couch so John could sleep. Together there we slept nearly three hours. After that, I just decided to bring him to bed with me. I sleep better, he sleeps better, and I really enjoy having him so close to me. I think I'll especially enjoy our nights together now that I have to spend so much time away from him during the day. The only person who hasn't benefited from our new arrangement is John. He actually sleeps worse with Isaac in the bed because, now that he's closer, John hears him every time he makes a sound and ends up waking up multiple times throughout the night. Hopefully, though, he'll just get used to it because now that I've tasted the sweet nectar of sleep there's no way I can go back. I can't decide, though, whether Isaac should sleep between us or next to me, nearer the edge of the bed. When he's there, I'm terrified he's going to roll off the side of the bed, but when I've put him between John and me, there have been more than a couple of times I've woken up just in time to catch John's elbow before it landed on Isaac's head or had to push him nearly off his side of the bed to keep him from rolling over on our baby. Any advice from other co-sleeping parents? I read in my Dr. Sears book that you can buy a sort of railing to attach to the side of the bed to keep baby from rolling off (he advises against putting baby in between mom and dad), but I haven't looked anywhere to see if those are available here in town or if I have to find one online.

So far, the first day of work hasn't been too bad, though I fear I'm about an hour away from a major crash. I've left Katie in charge of putting this issue to bed today, so I haven't taken on too much responsibility, which is good, I think, because my brain didn't quite make it to work with me. The one difficult thing, though, is trying to pump enough milk throughout the day to keep up with what Isaac's eating. Of course I'm not pumping as much as I'd be producing if I were nursing him, but I think I'm not even getting as much as I would if I were in a more comfortable, relaxing setting. As it is, I have to pump in the bathroom, and, although I've rolled a chair in there, it's still not the ideal pumping room. And the stress of knowing I've got people waiting for me outside those bathroom doors doesn't help either. It is nice, though, to take 20 minutes a few times a day and just think about Isaac, to be able to focus some of my attention toward him, even when we're apart.

Friday, June 20, 2008

My World

First Day of Summer, Last Day of Leave

Today is my last day of maternity leave, not counting the weekend. I want to do something special with Isaac to celebrate it, but the more I think about it, the best thing we could do is relish our time together. So, today, I will not get frustrated when he gets fussy. I will hold and rock him as long as he wants without thinking about how tired I am. I will enjoy nursing him all day long, however often and however long he wants to, because, after this, it'll be bottles five days a week. I will not worry about the dishes or the laundry, about the sticky counter tops, the dirty floors or the dust bunnies in the corner. Today I will turn off the TV and devote every ounce of my attention to my little man. When he falls asleep, I will cuddle up next to him and nap alongside. I will not think about what I am going to miss while I am at work, and I will dote on every little smile, every squeak and squeal he makes while I am here. Today, nothing matters but spending time with my little man. I love you more than life, Isaac.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Isaac has these big, beautiful blue eyes, and he always opens them one at a time. He's done this since birth. He'll open one eye and look around for a while, sometimes for almost a minute, like he's wondering if it's worth opening the other, if there's really anything out there worth seeing, and then he finally pries the other one open. Yesterday, while he was nursing, one eye was barely open a crack and the other completely shut, and I wasn't sure whether he was awake or not. So I sort of tugged at the cheek beneath the partially open eye to see if he would open it anymore. He didn't, but he peered up at me through his slit of an eyelid, and I swear his face said, "What the hell are you doing?"

I swear, every time I try to leave the house, I get to the car (sometimes I get in the car) before I realize I'm still wearing my house slippers. This has been going on since Isaac was born. It's worse now that I have slippers that are shaped like flip flops. A couple of weeks ago my mom and were going to go shopping, and once we were outside I realized I was still wearing my slippers. I went back inside to change my shoes and saw my shirt sitting on the recliner. I had forgotten to put my shirt on. I was wearing the nursing tank top I wear underneath everything, but that was it. I thought placenta brain went away once the baby was born, but it turns out it actually gets worse. So it seems I'll be an idiot for the rest of my life.

Isaac has been kicking and playing and laughing all morning. Usually in the mornings we watch all the baby shows on The Learning Channel, but I've realized I need to turn those off because every time some new mother brags that her perfect eight-week old is sleeping through the night, I want to throw something at the TV. We will keep watching Jon and Kate Plus 8, though, because I look at her and think, at one time, she had six newborns. Bless you, woman.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thank you, Anne Lamott

I've been reading her book, Operating Instructions, a journal she kept during her son's first year of life. I started reading it when I was pregnant, but didn't really get into it and eventually abandoned it for a bevy of books on childbirth. I picked it up again the other day, though, and have been reading it while I nurse Isaac. It's wonderful for, if not anything else, it's pure honesty. She's not afraid to admit that, while most days her son is an angel gift from God, some days he's pure hell. On top of that, the book is touching and hilarious. It's sort of like a good conversation with an old friend.

Not that Isaac has been pure hell. I certainly wouldn't go that far. He doesn't like to sleep, though, which is frustrating and exhausting. I think there have only been two or three nights in the past couple of weeks that he has gone to bed before 2am. I find myself hating anyone whose baby sleeps through the night. I can't tell you how many times I've woken up in the rocking chair in Isaac's room, both breasts hanging out, his little body either sprawled across my lap on his Boppy or slumped over in my arms. I wake with a sharp pain in my neck, my head having been lulled forward or over one shoulder for the past thirty minutes to an hour. I can never remember how long we've been nursing, when we started, which breast we left off on. So I stumble back to either the bed or the couch and, invariably, as soon as I set him down, he's awake again in 30 minutes and ready to eat. And we start all over. I have finally resorted to just bringing him to bed with me, which seems to be helping him sleep a little bit longer.

I do want to say to everyone who has told me to give him formula at night to help him sleep longer, that is a crock of hockey. For the past two nights we've tried giving him formula, and still he doesn't go to sleep until 1 or 2am. The one good thing about it, though, is that it has given me the opportunity to get a little extra sleep at night. A couple of hours before I'm ready to pass out from sheer exhaustion, I nurse him, give him a bath and as much infant massage as he'll tolerate and then I rock him a little while John makes the bottle. Then I give him to John. He's not thrilled about the new arrangement (last night he had to stay up with him from 11pm to 1am), but I am more than grateful for the couple hours of sleep this has afforded me. So much so that I may be willing to sacrifice one bottle of formula a night if it means I get to sleep a little. Like I said, John's not thrilled about getting less sleep, but I decided he can either stay up with him a couple hours later than he normally would, or he can get up with him every time he wakes during the night. I just know I can't do it alone anymore, especially since I have to go back to work on Monday. No more Miss Nice Mommy.

Tomorrow he will be eight weeks old. It's so hard to believe. He really is an amazing little gift from God. Besides his lack of sleep, I really have nothing to complain about. He is an abundantly happy baby, all smiles and squeals and laughs and coos. During tummy time, he scoots himself on his turtle-shaped mat, pushing his head and tummy forward with his toes. And today, he held a toy for the first time. Okay, yes, I uncurled his fingers, placed the toy in his hand, and closed his fist around it, but he kept the grasp long enough for me to get a picture. I am so going to miss spending our days together. I worry I'm going to miss too much and, worse, that I'm going to come home from work too tired to spend any good, quality time with him. We are cherishing our last days of freedom.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I'm Back

It's hard to believe Isaac is already six weeks old. I've been trying to post since his birth, but without Internet at home and with a new center of my universe, it's been difficult to find time to do anything my mother my little man. And I'm not complaining. That's all I want to do, really. I do wish I were writing more and recording our time together, just because it flies by so quickly and I'm afraid in a year or two I'm going to forget the little moments that right now make up our lives. Ive been working on our birth story since he was born, and I need to finish it before I "forget." While I know it'll be impossible to really forget my son's birth, I do fear that some of the details will get hazy with time, and it's the details I want to make sure I remember.

I have so enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom for the past few weeks. I really can't imagine there being another job I'd rather have, and I'm sort of dreading returning to work. I had been thinking of searching out some other employment, maybe something less rewarding than my job now but that would allow me to be at home during the day and work at night. I'm still considering that an option, but I know that if I return to my 8-to-5, there are attachment and bonding opportunities that I'll miss during that time. At the same time, there are attachment and bonding opportunities I would miss working in the evening as well. Really, there's no good option for returning to work. The only option that sounds appetizing is to stay at home full-time. Unfortunately, John and my financial situation doesn't allow for that, so at least, by returning to Urban Tulsa, I'll be going back to a job that I find satisfying, where I have some seniority and as much flexibility as possible. But the moment we win the lottery, I'm outta there!

So, motherhood has definitely been more difficult that I could have ever imagined. I'm not sure anyone warned me about that. Not that I would have listened if they had. I was talking to Tasha a couple of weeks ago, and we were discussing how no one ever tells you how hard it is to mother a newborn, how frustrating and exhausting it can be in the beginning. And we agreed that people probably don't talk about it because, in the end, it's also incredibly rewarding, and the good times always overshadow the bad. The first three weeks were definitely intense, though. I think it was the sheer exhaustion that made them so difficult. And, there were some issues in the beginning with breastfeeding. In the hospital, we were fine, but as soon as we got home, Isaac wouldn't nurse. I bawled for hours the first night, trying to put Isaac to breast, him screaming instead. I finally broke down and gave him formula the first three days. During my pregnancy, I had been ferociously determined to breastfeed, but, having to fight Isaac at every feeding, I wanted to give up. I think it was guilt and alarm at high formula costs that prompted me to seek help from the lactation consultants at St. John. They provided help over the phone and in person, and with their support and encouragement, I stuck it out, and Isaac and I have been successfully nursing ever since. I honestly could not thank them enough, and I definitely recommend them to any mother seeking help, answers or encouragement with breastfeeding, whether you delivered at St. John or not. We hit a few rough patches during his early growth spurts, but I felt like, by the third week, we sort of fell into sync with one another. I gave into the realization that breastfeeding is a lifestyle choice, not just a way of feeding, and adjusted my life accordingly. I also think that was when Isaac and I really started to get to know one another; I was better able to read his cues and his cries and could figure out how to provide him with what he needed. And the moments when I couldn't figure it out, I just prayed for patience and God delivered. Since then, I've been able to relax more and really enjoy our time together. We still have our moments, like when I'm barely surviving on three hours of sleep and Isaac's screaming at 2am, refusing to be consoled, but, for the most part, every day is a blessing and Isaac is a happy, healthy little man. He's already so strong, so active and so talkative. I can't believe how fast he's growing. While part of me is looking forward to all the things we can do together as he gets older, another part of me wishes he wouldn't grow so fast, that this period of his little life would last just a little bit longer.

The other thing I find myself extraordinarily grateful for is the support I've received from other mothers. Their encouragement (assuring me, no matter the situation, I'm not the only one who's felt this way) has been invaluable. You know who you are, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I only hope I can offer the same support to other new mothers when they need it. I promise, you're not the only one who's felt this way.

At Tasha's recommendation, I've been reading Dr. Sears' The Baby Book. It's a sort of medical encyclopedia for babies with an enormous index that's great for troubleshooting. It also speaks to attachment parenting, which Dr. Sears and his wife advocate and practiced with their 19 children (I don't think they really have 19, but they do have quite a few). It's been really encouraging to read a book that advocates a parenting style I already believe in and that also provides medical evidence to support that style, which comes in very handy when defending myself from those who would accuse me of "spoiling" my son because I pick him up when he cries, carry or wear him most of the day and breastfeed on demand. Dr. Sears points out that attachment parenting can actually help children become independent and better disciplined later in life because the trust and security they feel with their parents gives them the confidence to be independent. They feel comfortable going out on their own because they know that their parents will be there when they come back. Those--discipline and independence--are the areas critics of attachment parenting bring up most often, and while I feel comfortable defending myself and my parenting choices, it's nice to have some medical evidence to back them up. Thanks, Dr. Sears! :) The book's also got great advice on breastfeeding, nighttime parenting and parenting the high-need baby (which, upon further reading, it turns out Isaac may be). I definitely recommend this book to other new parents.

I hope to post more soon. I especially want to share my birth story, which, while it didn't match my birth plan, was still a happy, successful and safe experience.

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