Reflections on Motherhood and Life as a Doula

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gardens and Bees and Clotheslines, Oh My!

I LOVE SPRING!!!  Funny that I am saying that right now, as the cold wind blows and the snow re-stuck to the ground las night.  But Spring is here and I know that snow will melt away for good in the next few weeks.

My house is an absolute mess due to my crazy spring cleaning.  I have emptied out every drawer, closet, I'm just trying to find a new home for everything.  Ya know, change things up.  Make my life a little lighter and brighter.

Every countertop in my kitchen is covered with some sort of plant in some sort of pot, growing slowly under our grow lights and waiting patiently for the ground to thaw so they can transfer outside.  Mike spends so much money every year on flowery annuals to plant in our gardens.  He decided this year to save a bunch of money and grow them himself - and the good news is that he is growing mostly perennials, so we won't have to do this every year.  A bunch of our veggies have been started.  We are planning some adventures to flea markets to pick up old windows so we can build our cold boxes.  I can't wait to get these veggies in the ground.  If I do this right, we should have vegetables to last us the entire year.

Mike's birthday is coming up in June, and I've been wracking my brain about what to get him.  I really want this year to be special.  As we add more children to our family, we focus all of our time and energy on them.  It is nice to save a few days out of the year to spoil eachother and remember who we are as individuals.  Initially I was going to get him Jimmy Buffet tickets for the July show at Blossom.  The ticket prices made my stomach clench into knots, but I knew it would be worth every penny.  I packed up the kids and drove up to ticketmaster to get the tickets...Sold Out.  My heart sunk.  Mike is so hard to buy for, and this was the only thing I could think of that would really make him happy. 
As I've been researching other possible gift ideas, I have finally decided what to get him.  Bees!  We have a bunch of fruit trees and bushes going in this year, and what better way to pollinate them, then with honey bees.  My Dad has been raising bees for as long as I can remember, so I got together with him to find out exactly what I needed to do to get this started.  I'll be ordering the hive and supplies this week, and my parents are driving out to the apiary to pick up the bees for them and for us at the end of April.  I really think that this will be a hobby that Mike will enjoy.  And hey, we'll get honey as a bonus!

My children, my skin, and my clothes are begging for some warm sunshine.  As soon as the temperature hits 50, my clothesline will be up and my diapers will be flapping in the wind.  I love that I can use household chores as an excuse to get outside and soak up some rays.  God, I love the smell of clothes after drying on a clothesline.

I have two more births scheduled for right now.  One should be having her baby any day now, and the other is due in mid-April.  My confidence is building again, and I am so excited to welcome more babies earthside.  The female body is so amazing!
I keep telling myself that once these birth are done, I will take a break to enjoy my family and our summer together.  But I know that as soon as another woman calls, I will be opening my arms to more babies being born. 
If I do get a little break, you can find me in my back yard.  I will be in the garden, playing with my kids, and slowly building a chicken coup.

Warm weather, I give you permission to arrive NOW!  Looking forward to a wonderful spring and summer.  There will be so much to celebrate.  And who knows, maybe baby #3 will be on his/her way as we reenter into the cold months.

Friday, March 25, 2011

One Moment

One Moment.

One photo.  No words.  A moment I want to capture and remember forever.

Friday, March 18, 2011

One Moment

One Moment.

One photo.  No words.  A moment I want to capture and remember forever.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

So much to learn from

Still new to the "doula" scene, but thought I was flawless.  My first few births were smooth sailing, and I was confident in the support I provided.  But alas, I have been humbled.  Even though this last birth was successful in its ultimate goal, I walked away feeling like a failure and wanting to quit.

I have had a few sleepless nights since the birth (on top of the sleepless night during the labor and birth), and I think I have finally gotten some of my emotions and thoughts together. 

I watched a VBAC momma hit mental block after mental block, and I sat there...helpless...not knowing what I could do to help.  Not only have I attended a VBAC before, but I have VBAC'd myself!  I know all about the mental blocks that a woman experiences as she tries, yet again, for a vaginal birth.  I am "miss emotional support"!  What happened to me?  Why couldn't I say the right things to help her move past these? 

I was so full of doubt and disappointment (in myself), that I forgot about the other important things a doula needs to do.  I stopped reminding her of position changes, I stopped protecting her from inconsiderate comments made by the "medical professionals", I just stopped.  And labor got "stuck".  I took a break (one of many) and went home to have dinner with my family.  I was a complete mess.  Sobbing over the idea that I was a failure and I was failing this tremendous woman who "needed" me so badly.  Thankfully I have a husband who has his head on a little straighter than I do.  He calmed me down, reminded me that this wasn't my birth, and also reminded me that only one person can move through these blocks - the laboring woman.  And he was right.  I hit block after block, and although I had a massive amount of supportive women around me, only I could move past them.  And I did.

I went back to the hospital (my husband's words had not rang true with me yet), and tried to get out of my head and into the birth.  Luckily for me (and I think for all of us), a good friend of ours came to offer some extra support.  She was like a doula for all of us.  She gently reminded position changes and relaxation.  She encouraged physical support that I wasn't expecting to do - which was awesome because I felt useful and got to use my homemade oils!

And then she pushed.  And while she pushed, I wanted to punch the rude nurse standing across from me...but I didn't.  We whispered words of encouragement and love.  And she pushed her baby out into her open arms.

Could I have done more to support this amazing woman in her labor and birth?  Absolutely.  Will I ever forgive myself?  Probably not.  But I am going to try.  And I am going to take so much from this birth to help me move forward and grow as a doula.

I am truly honored that I was able to witness this beautiful birth, and I am thankful that I had this experience. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

One Moment

One Moment.

One photo.  No words.  A moment I want to capture and remember forever.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Birth Plans - Making them stick!

I'd like to think that everytime a staff of nurses get a copy of a woman's birth plan, they say - "Yes!  A woman is taking control of her birth!  Let's help her get the experience she desires!"
Unfortunately, I don't think this happens every day.  Not that I don't believe there are amazing nurses who support natural childbirth, I just don't think there are as many as we would like.

So we write a birth plan, describing everything we want and don't want at every possible stage of labor, and we even throw in those "in case of emergency" points.  STOP!  Erase, delete, burn!  I don't care, just get rid of that damned thing. 

My first bit of advice - and remember, this is not medical advice...I have nothing backing what I say, other than my own personal experience - Don't write anything about the first stage of labor.  Labor at home!  You'll be a million times more comfortable, nobody is going to be sticking things inside of you, you can rest without someone coming in to wake you up and ask you to "rate" your pain, you can eat, you can drink, you can sit on the toilet without being disrupted (unless you have a 2 year old in the house), music, tv, prayer, dance, dah dah dah dah dah...and the list goes on.  Save yourself some sanity, and scrap the whole first half of your birth plan. 
Now, if you are planning on giving birth in a hospital, I imagine that you would like to arrive to the place of birth BEFORE the baby completely emerges from your vagina.  If I am correct, and you want a natural birth, you may want to jot down, "PLEASE do NOT offer chemical pain relief".  Done.  Simple as that.  They get the point, and you didn't come off as a crazy whack-job who is trying to tell them how to do their jobs.

If you leave it like this, there is no room for discussion.  The only way things will change, is if there is a TRUE emergency - and in that case, there will be no discussion.  Don't give anybody the opportunity to talk to you about a "possible emergency if this and this and that happen".  There could be a possible emergency if I walk out my front door right now...but I'm still gonna go ahead and do it.  There are dangers in everything we do, but we know that for low-risk mothers; natural, vaginal childbirth is the safest way to go.

I also don't think you should write about pushing.  If you are pushing with no chemical pain relief, you are pushing when you feel the need to push.  Believe me...NO ONE can stop you.  If they try to coach you, just ignore them.  You don't need coaching.  And whatever position feels good to push in, get in that position.  If they argue with you, ignore them (as long as somebody can catch the baby).  A woman who is truly having a natural childbirth, can not be disrupted at this time.  She is so primal, so instinctual.  There is almost nothing anybody can do to bring her out of this.  Just push.  You'll know how when you get there.

CONGRATULATIONS!  You had your beautiful baby! 
Now let's get writing. 
Your baby is no longer protected in your womb.  You are high as a kite with love and joy. 
This is where, I believe, you need to give step by step, moment by moment direction.  This is your baby.  You are the only one who has this amazing connection with him/her.  You need to protect your baby. 
Everything from umbilical cord care, to newborn exams, to breastfeeding.  Write it down.  Write it all down.  And bring 40 signed copies with you.  Have your partner and doula hand them out to every staff member they see.
You may think I am going overboard about this...but you are the protector of your baby.  Protect them.

So your birth plan is written.  Your L&D nurses will probably be pretty respectful and leave you alone, because you did the same for them.  This will make for an enjoyable birthing experience.  After the baby is born, it doesn't really matter how crazy the nurses think you are.  The only thing that matters is that your baby is in your arms.  Don't let that baby go. 
Go home.
Enjoy motherhood.