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Newest Blooper

Did you know we really boil water at homebirths?  It’s true.

We boil water to steep herbs for postpartum care and to heat up the tub if needed.

Last week, I attended a homebirth in my childhood home.  It was my sister’s 2nd birth there.  I’m pretty comfortable in that home.

At 5am, I went downstairs to start water boiling.  I knew Noelle would get in the tub soon and sometimes the hot water runs out.  I was on top of it!

There were 3 large stockpots on the stove.  I checked one and it was water.  I checked another–water.  I didn’t check the third.  I turned the burners on high and walked away.

A little while later, it smelled like the house was on fire.  I ran into the kitchen and promptly busted it–sliding in a puddle of water in my socks.  A pot was smoking.  I grabbed it (burned my fingers) and took it outside.  Apparently, my mother was soaking lima beans for the vegetable soup Noelle requested to eat after her birth.

Have you ever smelled burnt beans?  Noelle actually thought I was smoking cigarettes!!  The house smelled horrible.  I smelled worse.  I had to find new clothes in my mother’s closet and rub sweet orange oil in my hair.  It was nasty.  Worse, I had to wake up my mother and ask her to clean the kitchen floor because Noelle needed me.

Lately

I haven’t done one of these in awhile.

Adoring: my May clients. Two beautiful families. Their births will be extraordinary.

Listening to:

Proud of: my students and the amazing, outside-the-norm births they experience!

Never Leaving Home Without: My LifeFactory bottle filled with coconut water, chlorophyll, and lemons.

Appreciating: coffee

Nostalgic about: gluten. Oh how I miss it. I’ve been gluten-free for four whole days.

Reading: Little Women with Norah. The Easter Bunny is bringing her tickets to the musical.

Buying: Vitamins and herbs. This family is consuming some serious supplements of late.

Drinking: green tea. Trying to get three cups a day.

Working on: A new blog look. This one has long grown stagnant.

Wishing: Cedar would decide to poop on the potty. I threw away a cloth diaper the other day because I just couldn’t make myself clean it. Shhhhh…don’t tell anyone.

Giddy about: hmmm. I can’t think of anything. I need more giddy in my life of late.

Feeling: Heavy for my dear friend who will be sending off her Airman to faraway places.

Missing: my computer. It crashed last night. As much as I would like to say the iPad satisfies, it falls short in areas like blogging, creating Facebook events, creating documents, working with media files. I would like to insert a picture in this post. Alas, I don’t know how.

Grumpy that: my poor missionary sister in Cambodia gets to see Hunger Games before I do.

Dengue Fever and My First Missed Birth

Have you missed me?

After an amazing three weeks in Thailand and Cambodia, I returned with a souvenir:  dengue fever. 

I rarely get sick. 

This sick was serious business.  Two trips to Urgent Care, one trip to Infectious Disease, 2 chest x-rays, 12 vials of blood for various tests, two shots of pain meds, 1 round of Cipro, and 1 anti-parasitic med for good measure.  My husband missed work to care for me.  My mother-in-law and mom missed work to care for my girls.  It was a blast. 

The worst part:  I missed a birth.  My first one since I began as a doula six years ago.  I’m ever grateful to Laura Curry for rushing out at 1:30am to care for my client.  But I’m still dealing with this very uncomfortable territory. 

So what was dengue like?  Well, I understand why it is called breakbone fever.  It truly feels like your bones are being pulled apart.  I read that it was also called “dandy fever” because slaves who were forced to keep working when they had dengue, walked like a “dandy.”  I get that, too.  There were times when all I could do was writhe my hips constantly.  It reminded me of the way women rock their hips during birth.  On top of the fever and bone aches, my skin crawled.  Sometimes it felt like ants were biting me.  And I had trouble breathing because of the pain in my chest.  Plus I was a tad panicky since all sorts of bad things *can* happen with dengue.     

At least I wasn’t contagious.  Unless the rogue mosquito that infected me hitched a ride home.

Then, after the worst was past, I spent a week with low-grade fevers and what looked like (on the chest x-ray) pneumonia.  Several breathing spasms landed me with an inhaler.  That really stumped the Infectious Disease doctor since pneumonia is not a typical secondary problem with dengue.  Who knows?  But it seems to be better.  I seem to be better.

Which means, I will be blogging again.  I have several posts planned about my trip so I will detour from birthy/parenting topics for a bit and share some about travel with kids, the tooth fairy in Thailand, human trafficking, and the amazing Slagels. 

Right after I prepare for the class I’m teaching tomorrow night…

Openings are Grand!

We’ve asked for one.  We’ve complained that our town didn’t have one.  We’ve ordered online and paid shipping fees.  We’ve driven to Spartanburg (and however much we love you, Mary, it is a long drive!).

Now it is here.  A natural parenting store.  In our town.  And it opens this week!

Come out of your hiding holes on Black Friday (or am I the only one who hides on Black Friday?) and visit Natural Baby between 10am and 6pm.  There will be giveaways!  And deals!  And lovely things to buy.  Things that are carefully crafted and sustainable.  Things that are fairly traded.  Things that are reusable (cloth diapers!).  Things that are locally made.

Come and see!

And while you’re visiting, tell Ady, the wonderful mama behind this project, how excited you are.  And give her your ideas for products to stock, free classes to offer, or ways to promote the store.

This is not simply another store.  It is an opportunity to impact parenting choices and support families in making mindful choices.  Ady wants the store to belong to the community–a place you can drop in to nurse a baby or let your toddler play while you catch your breath.  A place for gatherings like the monthly Babywearing group or LLL.  It is the new home of Upstate BirthNetwork.  Have I told you yet of this project?  Soon I will. 

I’ll be teaching a free Cloth Diapering 101 class on Dec. 11 at 2pm.  And the monthly Babywearing group will meet Dec. 9 at 6pm. 

Find Natural Baby via their website or on facebook.  And find it on Black Friday!

Blessingway Cancelled

September’s Blessingway (which is schedule for tomorrow) is cancelled. 

Carey and I are pooped.  Many, many births and many, many long nights clustered together = a much needed Saturday break.

We’ll see you all in October with a fabulous speaker and incredible birth story!

This is a blog

This is a blog.

It is not me.  It is a tiny piece of me that I filter and invite the world to see.  I do share some transparent stories.  But I don’t generally post photos of my dirty laundry or peanut-butter smeared windows.  You don’t know me just from reading this constructed mask of me. 

So may I be honest for a moment?

I have judged other mamas.  I have judged them, found them wanting, and dismissed them.  I have not always assigned positive intent.  I have made assumptions about parents based on their kid’s behavior.  Or what their kids were eating.  Or how their kids dressed.

For these actions, I am ashamed.

And I never want to make another mama feel shamed or dismissed. 

And there is a very precise hurt that comes when someone judges you by the behavior of your children.  Ask me how I know.

I remember being in a group that started attacking formula feeding.  As I looked around the room, I saw the non-lactating mamas look uncomfortable.  And I was so uncomfortable that I went to the car to feed Cedar her bottle of donated breastmilk.  I wonder if any of those mamas ever went back. 

Mamas, can we be gentle with each other?  Can we give grace?  When I see a mom melt down and yell at her kids, can I assign positive intent?  I have no idea what her day has been like.  Am I any better for waiting to yell at my kids when no one can hear me?  Am I any better for blogging mostly about my successes?

The parenting we do in public is only a tiny picture of the huge work done behind the scene.

I’ve worked in difficult careers.  Non-profit, ministry, corporate, education, and now birthwork.  None of it.  None of it compares to the difficult job of parenting.  Can we cut each other some slack?  

Please note peanut-butter smeared windows and screaming child.  And the blurred glimpse of a terribly flawed mama in the glass.

Support

I love this picture. 

To me, this is what support looks like at a birth.  The dad providing counterpressure.  The doula supporting the mom’s squatting position.  The midwife a reassuring presence.  I love her hand on Noelle’s head. 

The transition into pushing is an intense time.  The body is releasing adrenaline and mom’s “thinking brain” has shut down.  She is fully immersed in the sensations.  It can be a vulnerable time and one that is often abused by caregivers who are uncomfortable with the power of it. 

This is not a time for loud noises or flurried activity.  This is not a time for bright lights.  This is not a time for medication or the offering of medication.  This is not a time for instruction or cheerleading. 

This is a time for calm reassurance and gentle hands on support.  If the mom asks for help, offer it in a way that bolsters her trust in her ability to birth.   I quietly whisper to women words like “your body is designed to do this” and “you are bringing your baby down.”  I remind them to take it slow, there is no rush.  I remind them that they are not breaking; not damaging themselves.  They are stretching and opening. 

Sounds of power from the mom.  Croons and murmurs from the support team.  A cry of awakening from the newly born.

Mid-Year Review (sorta)

Funny Points

At a homebirth, we ran out of ice so I threw a bag of frozen tater tots on the mama’s chest.

By the glow of lamplight, I watched a midwife “dirty dance” with a laboring woman.  Très romantique.  Ladies, you know who you are. 

I got peed on.  Twice.  At the same birth.  On the same foot.

I heard a woman say “schrikeys” during her most intense contractions.  Not sure how that is spelled.

Highpoints

I was witness to a homebirth VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).

I threw a chux pad under a woman who gave birth standing up in a hospital bathroom.

Along with Carey, I started an upstate chapter of the nonprofit BirthNetwork (more to come on that!).

No cesareans, pain medications, or chemical inductions for any clients or students this year.

Lowpoints

I continue to confuse terminology between hypnobabies students/clients and non-hypno clients. 

Through a weird twist, I ended up with my 5 month old at a homebirth.  Had to wrap her on my back and rely heavily on the midwife assistant to doula for my client.

I turned away more women than I was able to serve.

A former client took her own life 9 months postpartum.  If you know someone struggling with postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis, please encourage them to get help.  We have a wonderful postpartum support group that meets monthly and can provide the resources for help that might be needed.

Wonder what the rest of the year has in store…

Norah’s Soapbox

Norah on her future career: 

Me:  What are you drawing?

Norah:  It is a picture of what I want to be when I grow up.  I’m standing on a stage telling people how to have babies.

Scott:  That is called a soapbox. 

Me:  She is indeed my child

Norah on Noelle’s upcoming birth:

Norah:  I’m going to be the third person to hold baby Asher. 

Me:  Who is first?

Norah:  Uncle Zach.

Me:  You don’t think Aunt Noelle should be first?

Norah:  No, silly mama, Uncle Zach gets the baby out and then hands him to Aunt Noelle.  She feeds him.  And then it is my turn to hold him. 

Norah on her own birth one day:

Norah:  I sure hope you’re there with me, mama.  And I want Aunt Noelle to give me cups of ice water.  And I want my birth tub to be purple. 

After a playdate (with the midwife’s daughters):

Norah (whining):  Mama, it was my turn to have a baby but Tallulah wouldn’t let me.

Me:  Why wouldn’t Tallulah let you?

Norah:  Cause she said Clem had to nurse the baby before it could be born again.

A few of my favorite posts over the years

My very first post:

The purpose of this blog–wow, why am I doing this?  I suppose it is because I have benefitted from other mom’s blogs.  They have graciously given me a glimpse into their homes and lives; assuring me that it is normal for a baby not to sleep through the night, that it is ok to sometimes still wear your pj’s at 3pm, and that it is a good sign that your toddler “nurses” inanimate objects–she will be a great nurturer one day. 

So, here goes…I’m offering a gift in kind–a peak into our life in all its fantastic energy.  We are a work in progress. 

And then some favorite posts:

When Norah got a pea stuck in her nose

The day my lost baby was due

Why I wish doulas didn’t exist

Living poo free (and yes, I still do)

Babywearing dinos

The time Norah got stuck in a shopping cart

So You Want to be a Doula

My sister’s guest post on modern day slavery

Adventures of Dr. Polo Shirt

Work Blunders

How to Prepare for a Hospital Birth

A very honest look at going from one kid to two