Motherhood, Pregnancy

Natural Childbirth: Are You CRAZY?!

7 Comments 21 November 2011

Every month, a group of local mothers and mothers to be attend Birth Matters.

“Birth Matters is a group for expecting mothers, those with little ones and women who plan to soon begin a family. Gain insight and understanding of the amazing journey of pregnancy, labor, delivery and the postpartum period with other moms in a fun and casual atmosphere!” – Birth Matters

The meeting is facilitated by a group of doulas and postpartum doulas that work together with Birth Kalamazoo, a local business that provides independent childbirth classes, doula and postpartum doula services, as well as lactation consultation/support.

I have been attending these monthly meetings nearly every month since they began almost a year ago.

Last month, the topic of discussion was “Natural Childbirth – Are You Crazy?!”

This was the event description:

“How do you respond to people who don’t understand why you want (or wanted) a natural birth? Have you been able to help shape their understanding in a new way? Or maybe you’ve simply found a positive reply that can shut down unhelpful comments? Come talk about your experiences, we’ll brainstorm together.”

Those comments read:

“my epidural saved my marriage,”

“coworkers betting against her,”

“WHY?!”

“would you have dental work done without medication?”

and “just you wait…”

“you don’t get a medal for birthing naturally.” (actually, I think you do)

There were many more statements written on that white board – one for every woman in the room. And we went back through each one and provided responses.

It was awesome. Myths were dispelled.  Fears were overcome. Support was given. A great meeting.

So let’s open up this conversation in the comments below.

I’d love to hear from you!

What were some of the comments you heard in response to telling people you were planning on having a natural birth? Or home birth? How did you respond, and what did you learn from the experience?

Breastfeeding, Motherhood

First Nap – a poem

1 Comment 26 October 2011

First Nap

Fussy, his back arches in rebellion
against the nylon constraints.
A shriek cry that startles me -
interrupting the click-clack
of keyboard sentences to friends.

He needs me.

Holding him I realize
no patting of the back,
no whispering in ears
will do any good right now.

My boy is tired.

We lay down in bed,
my overflowing breast
lays beside his tiny face -
I can hear him gulping.
Remember this rhythmic sound.

Looking down,
I myself am drowsy
in this milk-drunk state.
I have never been as important;
my duty is his survival.

I am needed.

A drip at the corner of his mouth
turn into a stream down his cheek
and that is when I fully realize
he has fallen asleep.

Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding, Motherhood

The Challenges and Rewards of Night Weaning

18 Comments 25 September 2011

I began the process of night weaning my two and a half year old daughter two weeks ago.

Night weaning is a bitch! Emotionally and physically painful.

However, don’t let this deter you from night weaning. There are, as  I will explain, both challenges and rewards for night weaning.

I encourage the process.

I’ll begin with the why, the  how and move on from there with the details of our experience.

 

Why night wean?

I never thought to night wean Ella until Lucan was born.

I didn’t have a strong enough reason.

Although I wasn’t a big fan of waking up several times a night to nurse Ella back to sleep, I knew cutting out breastfeeding would be tough.

A battle even. Frankly, I didn’t want to face the confrontation.

Ella loves her “mum-mums.”

The first month of tandem night nursing went fine.

I laid on my back and had one child on each side of my body, nursing alternatively or at the same time. I got a fair amount of sleep and didn’t view our routine as an issue.

But then…things changed.

 

Lucan was no longer content to snuggle in the crook of my arm or lay on my chest. He craved autonomy. His go-to-sleep position became laying on his side next to me.

This presented a problem.

Ella began waking-up to my back in the middle of the night.

If I was nursing Lucan back to sleep, or needed to carefully peel my skin from his baby hug hold, Ella would get restless, impatient, and ultimately break-down into a fit of hysteria.

This usually woke-up Lucan.

 

What is a mother to do with two crying babies?

Not a pretty picture. I knew something had to change (and it wasn’t Lucan).

 

The Method:

The first step was talking to Ella about our night weaning plan.

When I explained that we weren’t going to be having mum-mums at night anymore, she inquisitively asked, “whyyyy?”

Good. She was listening.

I answered, “because night time is for sleeping. You can have mum-mums when you fall asleep at night. At night we’ll cuddle and sleep. Then, when the sun comes up, and it’s morning, you can have mum-mums again!”

She may have said okay, or she may have said nothing at all. But whether or not she understood, she heard me, and that’s all that mattered. I didn’t want to spring it on her out of the blue.

The Plan:

Bedtime routine would begin normally – Ella could nurse to sleep.

When Ella woke up, I’d quietly and calmly tell her she could have mum-mums in the morning, then suggest we cuddle.

Good, in theory, but …

Not only did whining, screaming and kicking ensue, so did a head-butt to the mouth, resulting in a bloody, puffy lip (mine, not hers).

Although it was tough, we got through the night without nursing. The key was soothing Ella while not giving in.

The second, third, fourth AND fifth nights were similar to the first (save the head-butting incident).

Ella awoke in the middle of the night 2-3 times, as usual pre-weaning, asking for mum-mums. And each time she was denied, (when I calmly told her she could have mum-mums in the morning and suggested cuddling) she’d break down.

 

To prevent from waking everyone, I would take Ella into the living room.

We’d sit on the couch until she calmed down. I wouldn’t let her back in the bedroom until she could take a deep breath and stop crying. Walking back into the bedroom, I always make sure to hold her hand, saying, “we’ll cuddle in bed honey.”

 

The 3 keys to night weaning success: that mom provides a calm, assertive energy, has patience and acts consistency.

If you’re in it to win it, follow this advice.

  • Without assertiveness, you’ll be wishy-washy and won’t get the message across that you mean business. Make sure your energy remains calm.
  • Without patience, you will nearly die. Seriously.
  • And without consistency, your child will be confused. You can’t tell him/her that you don’t nurse anymore at night only to give in the next night unless you want to fail miserably.

 

Present Day:

Our nightly trials nearly mimicked each other night after night until the pattern broke. Ella woke up just after 1, 3 and 5 for the first five days.

Then she woke up at 2:30 and 5:45.

Then at 3:15 and 6:15…

and then finally, she slept through the night until 6, two nights in a row. Hallelujah!!

If we can do it, you can do it too. Follow your heart, beat to your own drum, and good luck!

p.s. this has been my experience and I in no way feel or mean to come across as “my way or the high-way.” Check out Dr. Jay Gordon for attachment parenting night weaning tips.

Attachment Parenting, Guest Writers, Motherhood

A Working Mother’s Sacrifice

12 Comments 21 September 2011

guest post by Jeremy Dyen

I want to tell you how bittersweet it is that we live in a time when the roles of men and women, of mothers and fathers, have become blurred and intermingled.

More and more I find stay at home dads at the park with their kids, while mom is off at work.

I have a number of friends who live that scenario. I lived that scenario. I still do, though it is a bit more complicated than my wife, Madhavi, going off to work while I stay home with our 18 month old Anjali (but more on that in a minute).

Why I think this role shifting is bittersweet

The sweet part is that we stay at home papas get more time with our kids than the typical working dad.

That means more connection and involvement.  It has allowed me to tap deeply into my nurturing side, which I knew I had, but maybe didn’t realize how deep. Somehow I think it’s the role I always knew I would fill.

The bitter part is, especially in the early years, a sacred and beautiful bond is being broken, (at least partially).

It is my strongest belief that, at least in the first year, babies have a biological, an emotional and a physical need to be with their mothers.

Mom, after all, grew this baby for nine months and birthed her. They were physically connected for all of that time. I am reminded of this time and time again seeing Anjali’s reaction when she sees Madhavi, or when she is nursing. I am reminded of this every time Madhavi goes to work, even though she’s only going to the room on our third floor.

A Little Back Story

The short story is that Madhavi earns more than me, and therefore is the main earner in our family.

The longer story goes a little like this. I am a musician, composer and producer. I earn my living mainly from gigs and some teaching, but also from licensing, producing and CD sales. We own some rental properties, so I oversee everything related to that, including financing, bookkeeping, maintenence, etc.

My wife is a Physician…but no longer practicing clinically.

She left her job as a Headache Specialist in March in part because she no longer enjoyed clinical practice (and especially disliked being on call, which is really tough for a nursing mama), because she always wanted to work at home and most certainly to have more time with Anjali.

Since Anjali’s birth, she worked part time at her practice. But it became clear to her that it was time to take the plunge. She plunged and immediately found a job using her skills that allowed her to work part time and to be at home. She is given a few nursing breaks throughout her day, so she was able to ditch the pump.

Now, Madhavi and I are both work-from-home parents.

We recently launched the Birth Relaxation Kit which is a downloadable hypnosis for childbirth program, including affirmations mp3s, music recordings and guide book. Also, Madhavi has a thriving website at mavigupta.com, about headache relief, and where conventional and holistic medicine intersect.

The Sacrifice:

Ultimately, something has to give. Especially if a mother is working full time, either the quantity of time she spends with her kids suffers, or the quantity of her personal time suffers.

Sometimes it’s not even a choice.

On the one day of the week Madhavi works a full day, from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, she gets very little time with Anjali. Often these days, Anjali is napping when Madhavi has her lunch break. And recently Anjali started going to sleep at 7:30 pm.

Also, Madhavi is breastfeeding, and plans to continue as long as Anjali wants/needs. This makes co-sleeping at night the best option. That means on difficult nights, when Anjali wakes a lot, Madhavi’s sleep suffers (she probably hasn’t had a straight 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep for 18 months!). That compounds by the fact that she has to get up and work the next day.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture where food, housing, insurance and the basic cost of living is expensive.

We also live in a culture where moms are now expected, or at least encouraged, to work very shortly after giving birth.

Three months is considered a long maternity leave. Madhavi was given 6 weeks, and used vacation, sick and personal days to make up the difference.

What affect is this having on children? What affect is this having on our society in general?

Jon Kabat-Zinn says in the book, Everyday Blessings, “It is considered perfectly acceptable for people to give one hundred percent to their careers…but not to their children.”

One acquaintance of ours is reluctantly resorting to letting her baby cry it out to go to sleep at night in preparation for her return to full time work. She is in a situation where she is the main earner in her family, and she knows she cannot function well after long nights of nursing and many wake ups.

I see how Madhavi struggles with sleep. Even working part time, she feels like her brain is just being stretched. Madhavi chooses, however, to sacrifice her own sleep and her own time in order to provide our daughter with the love and nurturing she deserves. That means some rocky nights. It means putting some personal and business goals on the back burner, or letting them brew slower than we would like.

It’s All About Balance

Today, on one of Madhavi’s days off, I took Anjali to our friends’ party. This gave Madhavi a good chunk of time to reconnect with herself, to work on some of her goals, and even to start sewing a doll for Anjali, a project she has been wanting to get to but hasn’t had time. She said it felt good and it was much needed. Still, she was torn because it meant limited time with Anjali and me.

A friend of mine from college used to say, “It’s all about balance.”

This is one of the many times I hear that phrase echoing in my head. Everything we do as parents is about balance. I think it is a prerequisite, as a parent, to sacrifice at least piece of ourselves, and usually more. It is a balancing act to give so much of ourselves, and yet maintain our individuality.

I am so grateful for the sacrifices, among many other things, that Madhavi has given for her family. I am grateful that we have struck a kind of balance, though we strive for an even better one (that’s a whole other post in itself!).

I wonder how things would have been different if Madhavi was able to take a full year of maternity leave, as is possible in Canada and many other countries. What would it have been like if she didn’t have to go back at all?

***

I’m curious how many of the Bring Birth Home readers are stay at home moms, work at home moms, working part time or working full time. What is your take on this?

*************************************************************************************************
Jeremy Dyen is a musician, father and husband who blogs at Stay at Home Papa. He and his wife Madhavi are advocates of hypnosis and affirmations for mindset shifts about birth. They recently launched the Birth Relaxation Kit, and they even offer a free hypnobirthing mp3.

Motherhood

So This is “Mom Guilt”

23 Comments 17 August 2011

I haven’t blogged in a while. Mostly because I don’t have the time, but also partly because I always want to post something “worth while,” ie, informative, inspiring or just plain cool. I’ve realized however, by not blogging, I’m not documenting my life very well. Because I don’t journal anymore now that I have a blog. But if  I don’t blog about every day things…I think you get my point. So enough is enough, it’s time to start blogging! Sharing! Getting this sh*t out of my system.

Tonight’s topic: Mom Guilt.

Truth be told, I never really experienced Mom Guilt until after Lucan was born. It came on fast and furious.

It started with the obvious: I could no longer pay attention to Ella all day long, each and every day.

I simply couldn’t, not like before he was born. There she was, standing in front of me asking me to dance and I couldn’t. And she didn’t understand why. That was hard. She was a trooper about it though. Her tears were few. I asked her to dance for me. Told her I would watch and so she did. I told her she was beautiful while my heart broke with sadness and pride for my little girl.

But the real Mom Guilt has come in a form I am not so proud to share.

I realized I must share this while discussing the issue with fellow moms at the La Leche League meeting this morning. It is something, we found out, very common for mothers with children less than three years apart – specifically during the second child’s newborn stage.

When our older child acts out we feel:

Anger. Rage. Complete frustration. Complete lack of patience. Monsters, we become – completely unrecognizable to our former selves.

And why? 

Because they should know better.

They are older. They should understand why you don’t want them to throw the quinoa all over the floor after you politely and calmly ask them not to.

So we yell. We scold. In the heat of the moment we say things we wish we could take back. We give looks that we wish we could take back. It’s a tone.

I’ve had those moments. And the guilt is crushing.

I forget that my sweet Ella Rose is still only two and a half years old. She looks seven years old compared to her seven week old brother. She is still a baby. She doesn’t understand.

What she does understand though, is love.

It is the one thing that heals wounds. I hold my little girl and apologize for my harsh words. I tell her the way I spoke to her wasn’t nice. We hug. And when she sighs and says, “all better now,” I feel a bit of hope, trying not to replay the scene over and over again in my mind. I believe her – that she really means it. That I haven’t done lasting damage.

I hope not.

Motherhood, Pregnancy, Reviews

Every Town Needs a Birth Kalamazoo

No Comments 26 June 2011

The United States would be a better place for women to give birth if every town had a Birth Kalamazoo.

As a natural birth advocate, how many times have you run into situations where you wish you could direct an expecting friend to a safe, informative place to gain knowledge about birth?

In Southwest Michigan, that place is Birth Kalamazoo.

Allow me to set the scene:

Say you’re in Ohio and your best friend lives in California. She asks for resources.

Such as How to find a doula.

You could tell her to look at bulletin boards and suggest books, movies and an independent childbirth class. But that would be the extent of your reach. She’s ultimately left to her own devises, the opinions of those who live closer, and her care provider.

That is why every town needs a Birth Kalamazoo.

Birth Kalamazoo is…

“Offers natural childbirth & breastfeeding classes, birth doulas, postpartum doulas and lactation consults. Birth and early parenting is such a precious time, we help make the journey as smooth and centered as possible.

Birth Kalamazoo connects families with birth doulas, natural childbirth and breastfeeding classes, post-partum doulas and lactation consultants.

We believe that birth is transformative, and that mothers and new families deserve caring, knowledgeable support for that journey. While we have a special love for natural birth, we honor the birthing process for every family, wherever it begins and ends.”

The doulas of Birth Kalamazoo have created a community for women in Kalamazoo, Michigan and surrounding areas.

Since early Spring of 2011, Birth Kalamazoo has been the host of a new monthly series of meetings called Birth Matters (click the link to learn more about the July meeting, “Whatza Doula?”).

“Birth Matters is a FREE group for pregnant moms, those with little ones and women who plan to soon begin a family. Come and gain insight and understanding of the amazing journey of pregnancy, labor, delivery and the postpartum period with other experienced moms in a fun and casual atmosphere! The group is sponsored by Birth Kalamazoo and co-led by doulas Beth Hawver, Jody Swank and Jessica English.”

Each month, as word spreads, the group gets larger. Women have driven as far as an hour to attend.

I am grateful for the information and support I have received from the Birth Kalamazoo doulas.

When I was pregnant and looking for a doula, I soon became familiar with post cards and business cards distributed by Birth Kalamazoo at local coffee shop and natural grocery store bulletin boards. It was a blessing being able to access the kind of information I was looking for so readily.

This kind of marketing has been key to Birth Kalamazoo’s success, along with word of mouth.

I picked up a post card and emailed Jessica English, birth doula, childbirth instructor and owner of Birth Kalamazoo.

She was so helpful and kind, suggesting events for Eric and I to attend and giving me information about her upcoming natural childbirth class, which we ended up taking. After a few classes, we decided to hire Jessica to be our birth doula for our home birth. She was terrific!

Our relationship has continued to blossom and I had the pleasure of interviewing her last July during Bring Birth Home’s webinar series featuring Birth Kalamazoo.

Eric and I have hired Jessica to be our birth doula again for our second (quickly approaching!) home birth. I honestly can’t imagine birthing without her!

Imagine if every town in the United States had a Birth Kalamazoo.

I could rest easy at night knowing that women all over our country had the same kind of access to natural birth information and support as I do in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

If you are a childbirth educator or doula who feels inspired by this blog post, follow suit! Make doing what you love a full-time job if it isn’t already, and start a Birth Denver, or Birth Cincinnati!

Gather other doulas in the area and create a safe place for women. It doesn’t have to be huge. Start small. You don’t even need your own building.

“Like” Birth Kalamazoo on Facebook today and learn from them!

And here is the official website of Birth Kalamazoo: http://birthkalamazoo.com/home.html

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