Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Two empowering births.

My first birth was in a hospital, but it was unmedicated and a vaginal delivery. We researched all our options and had a very successful, mostly intervention free birth.

This birth was a home birth. And intervention free, however, this birth was much more empowering than the first. I think there are a few reasons for that. 

In our hospital birth, we had prepared to have to fight for our every preference. This created an us vs. them mentality that made it hard for me to completely relax. We also birthed on Saturday, so didn't have any of my normal obstetricians. Finally, the difference between a hospital room and my living room is extensive.

At home, I stayed in my living room and bedroom for the entire labor. I worked with the two midwives we had seen for months. Neither of whom interfered unless they felt it was necessary. Everything they said was framed as a suggestion.

The difference in the two experiences was staggering. My second labor lasted longer than the first yet I was well rested and able to eat at home in a way that was impossible in the hospital. My recovery had been quicker as well.

While I believe hospitals are necessary in some instances, for my family the homebirth was much more empowering than the hospital birth, which at the time felt very empowering. We would not hesitate to have another homebirth.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Vision of my Birth

At our first doula appointment almost two months ago, my doula asked me to write out my dreams for my birth. Now, this kinda goes against some of my 12-step work, which tells me to have no expectations as they are just pre-planned resentments. However, I found it quite therapeutic to write out what I would want if I could have anything and anyone for my birth. I wrote two versions: the "I know this can't happen" version, and the realistic version. Here they are.

Two Visions of Birth
By Melanie T. Corbett
There are things in my life which I cannot change. Events have occurred which I cannot undo, and I don’t wish to undo, however; if I were to create my “perfect” birth, it only exists in my mind. Here are two visions: one an ideal birth, and one a realistic ideal birth.

In a perfect world, my mother would be alive, my grandmother would be alive, and I’d be giving birth in grandma’s house, which is where I feel most at home. My grandmother and mother would be very supportive of my choice to birth at home because they would have done the same. I would begin labor in the middle of the morning, and then take a walk with my husband around the farm and lake, enjoying the fall weather. Around lunch time we would arrive at grandma’s house and let her know I was in labor. Mom would call the doula and midwife, who would be lifelong friends of our family. After making that call, we would all sit down to a homemade lunch, after which we would all help with a quilt that mom and grandma were making for the baby. We would talk about birth and share our birth stories. The doula would arrive first and would encourage Sean to help me through each rush in the best way he and I knew how. I would move around the house as necessary and make noise as necessary.

The midwife would arrive midafternoon and would encourage me to take another walk. This time I would walk down Pecan Lane and visit with the goats. I would notice the changing colors of the leaves. I would swing on the swing under the big oak tree. I would visit the barn cats and feed them some bread and milk. Sean would help me back to the house because my rushes would have become strong and close together.

The living room would be lit with sunlight from the afternoon sun, as I worked through the last few contractions leading to transition. I am concerned about tearing again, since I tore with my first birth, but the midwife just calmly applies some pressure and olive oil to my perineum as Michael descends through the canal. I never push. I let my body do what it needs to do and my head gets out of the way. Michael is born easily with no complications. We let the cord finish pulsating before cutting it. Michael is placed on my chest and under a blanket. He will be examined later after an initial breastfeeding session is established. He will not have a hat on. It is now that I realize some music has been playing softly in the background. They are church songs, some from my childhood, some from my current life, that have meaning to me.

Daniel has been free to roam around with us this entire time and by now has settled down with my mom in bed for a nap. Sean and I have some time alone with Michael as the midwives, doula, and my grandmother prepare a snack for after birth. I let the midwife know the placenta is coming, and she comes back to catch it. We will have it encapsulated, so she arranges to have it frozen until that can be done.

Sean’s mom comes in after Sean and I have spent some time with Michael. My mom and grandma also come to greet the new baby. I am encouraged to stand up and move around a bit so as to avoid clotting. Sean, Michael and I go into our room (the quilt room) which has been made up for us. Sean holds Michael as Mom brings Daniel in to meet his big brother. Daniel sits in my lap while meeting Daniel, knowing that he is not being replaced in any way. Daniel goes out to play with my Mom and his cousins while Sean, Michael and I take a nap.

Since the majority of this story cannot physically take place today, here is the version of a realistic ideal birth I have in mind.

I wake up early in the morning to light contractions. I get out of bed so as not to disturb anyone and go sit on the deck drinking some raspberry leaf tea. I spend some quite time to myself asking my female ancestors to bless this birth and bring me their wisdom throughout it. Sean wakes up and comes to find me. He makes me an abstinent breakfast based on my food plan which is written on the fridge. I eat a balanced, but light meal and get dressed. I gather the items given to me at my blessingway and arrange them to my liking. I turn on KLOVE on the computer. Daniel wanders out of the bedroom and he and I sit in the “big, soft chair” together for a bit, until it becomes too uncomfortable. I spend some time on the birth ball with him doing my stretches together. Sean fixes Daniel breakfast and he eats while watching Blue’s Clues.

We all decide to take a walk around the walking paths in our complex. Labor still seems pretty light. We call Judith before we leave to let her know what’s going on. The walk is chilly, so I am glad I brought a coat with me. By the time we come back to the apt, contractions have picked up and Judith arrives. The Rebozo and the birth ball help, as do hip squeezes performed by Sean. I remember this time to ask him if he needs a break occasionally. I call my sponsor to let her know what’s going on and make a couple of calls to other 12 step friends to meet my obligations for my program. In between contractions, I read some daily meditations.

We eat lunch. We call Natalie to see if she has to work that evening or would be available to care for Daniel. She does not have to work and comes right over. She and Daniel play together while Sean, Judith and I work through contractions. She is able to get him to take a nap. J
After his nap, Daniel chooses to go with Natalie to visit his friend (and her son) Josiah. As soon as he was napping, we called Sarah, as we want her to get here before traffic gets bad. She arrives and things are progressing smoothly. No one checks for dilation or anything silly like that. I get in the birth tub and realize it’s not a scary thing, but actually very helpful. The buoyancy of the water helps me to relax. Sean is in there too. Contractions intensify and I feel Michael travel down the birth canal. I reach down to feel his head. Shortly he is born and Sarah catches him and brings him to my chest. She lays a blanket over us, but I am desperate to get out of the water. Everyone helps us move out of the tub and onto the couch. Sean gets my robe to keep me warm. There is a fire going in the fireplace as well. The placenta is born and the cord cut after finishing pulsating. Michael and I are dry and warm now and wrapped in blankets. We establish breastfeeding. He is examined on my chest. Sean holds him and then we weigh him. Sean calls my sponsor to let her know how everything went. He then also calls his parents, my dad and stepmom, my sister and his brother and sister. An evening meal is served according to my food needs. Daniel comes back as we are settling in for the night. Sean holds Michael while Daniel comes into the bedroom to meet him. He finally understands there’s a baby. The placenta is stored in anticipation of encapsulation. Sean goes out to visit with the midwives and doula briefly and thank them.

We enjoy our newfound foursome and get to know each other. Eventually we all drift off to sleep somehow. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's been too long...

First, I'd like to apologize for not posting on here recently. I'd love to say that I've been out of the country, but mostly I've just been chasing my almost 3yo while feeling very, very pregnant.

I do love being pregnant, which might come as a surprise to some people. My mom had great pregnancies, and I apparently got that special gene passed on to me. I think this annoys most other women though. I often get asked, with wide, concerned eyes, "So, how are you feeling?" This reminds me of just after my mother was killed. I got asked that a lot. I'm not sure why being almost 9 months pregnant evokes the same response from people as having just suffered a terrible tragic loss. It makes me laugh, honestly.

My husband also gets asked how I'm feeling. He desperately wants to respond with something highly sarcastic like, "She's been put on bedrest for the next 6 months." And then when people ask, "Really?" Just respond with, "No." Thankfully, he refrains from angering all the truly concerned people we have in our lives. We know that these questions are asked with love and concern and not just to drive us both batty.

I have less than 2 weeks until my estimated due date. I like to refer to it as my guess date because really, who delivers on their due date? With DinoMan, I was six days "overdue". I knew in my heart he would come around a week late. I know this one will come around his due date or a bit after. I'm good with that.

I had friends, when I was pregnant with DinoMan, who didn't understand why they didn't go into labor on the first day of week 38. Then they spent the next 2-4 weeks being miserable because they had expected to already have a baby by then. I know myself well enough to not create my own suffering this way. I assume we will have past date babies. Then, if one comes earlier than expected, it's a pleasant surprise.

We've been really focused on getting ready for this birth for the past two weeks or so. Our homebirth midwives gave us a list of things we needed for the birth. We only have one more item to get before everything is checked off the list! Now I am organizing all our supplies and making sure the house is clean, just in case our little guy does come earlier than expected.

Every invitation we receive these days comes with the caveat that we'll be there, "as long as we're not in labor." My husband even joked that he told a work colleague he could meet him in five minutes, "as long as my wife doesn't go into labor." This is a fun time, I think. There is a blog article out there about the "in-between" time, referred to as the zwischen time in German. This is probably my favorite time of pregnancy, when I'm forced to slow down and be present with this baby who still resides in me. Unfortunately, my toddler is less keen on slowing down than I am, so it's a delicate balancing act.

Me wearing Great Grandma Attie's apron while I bake. Definitely nesting! 

As one of the highlights of this pregnancy, my husband and I had belly pictures made. I have finally come to a place of acceptance about my body and it's many unique attributes, so we decided to do nude maternity photos with both of us. I won't be posting those to the Internet any time soon, but it feels good to feel good about my very pregnant body right now. I love that I love myself, as that makes everything else in life easier.

And on a completely unrelated note, I have suddenly realized Christmas is just 2 months away and I haven't bought any gifts yet! We are going mostly homemade this year to save money, so I will have to get with it soon, "as long as I'm not in labor."

Monday, September 30, 2013

Knowledge isn't everything

I just finished our first meeting with our doula for Baby #2's birth (who needs a blogging nickname!). She had asked me to write out my ideal birth for her. I really struggled with this because my approach to this birth is so different from my approach to Dino Man's birth. What I finally ended up doing was writing two versions: one which reflected a desire to go back to a time where my mother and grandmother lived together on the farm; and one which is much more realistic and set in our own home.

What this exercise underlined for me was the emotion behind this birth. Don't get me wrong. Dino Man's birth was an emotional experience, but my preparation for that birth was based on researching everything I could about birth and breastfeeding in order to feel knowledgeable in the moment. This birth has been more about digging down into my own emotional turbulence and unearthing bits of fossilized emotions from my childhood as well as analyzing how I feel about certain events or approaches to birth.

For instance, we chose not to take a full birth class this time around and instead just "brush up" on a few things by attending local free classes given by the Childbirth Collective. These were great at reminding us of some things we had used in Dino Man's birth, but also gave us some new information as well. I've spent much more time working with my spiritual mentor in determining how I want this birth to feel emotionally, as well as how I want to experience my environment. I've worked on unearthing bits of selfishness and self-indulgence that may hinder my experience in this birth, as well as a parent.

So, my focus on writing my ideal birth down was much more about the sights and sounds of the moment rather than my list of things to do or not to do during the birth. We have chosen a homebirth, so there are some assumptions that go along with that, I imagine. We are relatively conventional people, but are "bucking the system" so to speak by making unconventional (some would call them crunchy) choices in regards to childbirth and the way we parent our children. I'm okay with that. I no longer feel the need to fight for my opinions to be heard or understood.

We even went the emotional route for choosing our birth attendants. Both our midwife and doula belong to the Childbirth Collective, and we heard each of them speak a few times at various Parent Topic Nights. We liked them immediately and felt they would serve us well in those capacities. We were told to ask questions, interview others, etc. We didn't. We went with our gut instinct in this matter and feel we couldn't have chosen better.

I feel much more relaxed about this birth as well. There is a sense that everything will happen the way it is supposed to happen, and I am open to whatever that might be. It's a really good place to be, even if it's totally new territory for me, the researcher and planner.

So, knowledge isn't everything. Often times, listening to your gut or instinct will lead you in the right direction, assuming you've practiced listening to your gut before. Too bad I don't listen to my gut when it tells me to do more laundry. I'd be a lot more caught up than I am right now!

When's the last time you listened to your gut about something? How did it turn out?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Midwife: The Documentary

Last night my husband and I attended the premier screening of Midwife, a documentary that follows a homebirth midwife through four births and also touches on what happens when states outlaw midwifery.

Sarah Biermeier, homebirth midwife
Here's the trailer.

This is an amazing documentary! I have personal connections to both the filmmaker, Allison Kuznia, and the main subject of the film, midwife Sarah Biermeier, whose midwife practice is Geneabirth. Sarah is the midwife for our birth which should happen in the next couple of months.

Allison Kuznia, photographer and filmmaker

The Midwife website has more information on Allison, Sarah, and the other subjects of the film, including Melanie Moore, a certified practicing midwife in Iowa, where midwifery is illegal. She has been arrested and charged with practicing medicine without a license and was served with a cease and desist letter. She is also a qualified examiner for NARM (North American Registry of Midwives). Sarah drove to Iowa to take her NARM exam.

I found the irony of having midwives illegal in Iowa, yet offering the examination in Iowa for midwives to be quite compelling. I can not imagine the added stress a midwife must feel knowing that practicing the job she feels called to do could land her in jail for many years.

I thoroughly enjoyed the four very different homebirths shown in the documentary. Each one had a "flavor" of its own, which reminded me that birth should be as individual as the mother involved. Some were water births, while some were not. Once was a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC), the others were homebirths after vaginal hospital births.

One involved a double shoulder dystocia, which did not respond to the Gaskin manuever, however the 11 pound 6 ounce baby was finally freed and resuscitated quickly.  I appreciated this birth being included for a number of reasons. Almost universally, hospitals and OBs feel an 11 pound baby would need a Cesarean section. It also showed Sarah's medical training and ability to deal with emotionally heightened situations quickly and thoroughly. In a discussion after the screening, Sarah elaborated that she had been on the phone with 911 preparing an emergency transfer for the baby when he finally responded to continual trained neonatal resuscitation efforts by her supporting midwives.

Sometimes when discussing my own upcoming homebirth, I get the impression that people feel a homebirth midwife is just some woman off the street who has attended a few births. That is generally far from the truth. Sarah trained with her preceptor for seven years before finally feeling ready to take the NARM exam. After passing the NARM exam, she regularly works with a partner midwife as well as a backup midwife. If a birth presents an unusual set of circumstances, such as breech presentation or VBAC, Sarah can utilize other midwives' wealth of knowledge to help with the birth.

The common thread from all four births was the level of respect levied for each birthing family. In fact, one father underscored this idea repeatedly as being the single biggest difference between their homebirth experience and their previous hospital experiences. He seemed to feel very disempowered during his wife's hospital experiences by the providers regularly giving only enough information to support their opinion rather than all the facts available to allow he and his wife to make an informed decision.

I feel very enthused about my own upcoming homebirth, especially after having seen four successful, yet very different, homebirths with my own midwife. This provided me a glimpse into what ours might be in a way that hearing or reading birth stories had not.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in what homebirth really is. A number of screenings are upcoming in the next two months. You can find the schedule for those screenings here. After the first of the year, DVDs and purchased streaming will be available on the website as well for those who are not near a screening.

Whether you are interested in a homebirth for yourself or are a birth provider of any kind, Midwife: The Documentary is an informative and emotional look into homebirth midwifery as it is practiced today.

On a side note, the theater chosen for the premier screening  was beautiful. It reminded me of the old theaters I would attend as a child. So if you get a chance to go see something at Heights Theater in Columbia Heights, MN, I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Be the good...

I got a call from my lovely husband today at lunch to let me know of something going on in our backyard.

Our local Dairy Queen has been the scene of an amazing drama unfolding. You can read the story here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/09/20/224417791/praise-pours-in-for-dairy-queen-manager-who-helped-blind-man

As someone who has spent some time with teenagers (I worked as a high school teacher for five years), I know a ton of people who feel this generation is beyond selfish and so distracted with technology that they wouldn't even notice someone getting run over by a car. I call BS on that sentiment. I've worked with many amazing teens who have their heads on straight and are working their tails off to make a living. This young man reminds me that not all teens act like Miley Cyrus (can they really be only a year apart!).

Kudos to him and kudos to the people who are praising his act of kindness.

"Evil happens where good men do nothing." This good man did something, and what was essentially an act of robbery was turned into something much more. A celebration of the kindness of one human to another.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Yesterday was a very full day for Dino Man and me. We started off with a MOPS meeting followed by lunch with Daddy-O. Then headed to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. I had a groupon for the Arboretum I needed to use, so thought we'd kill a few hours looking at flowers.

What happened instead was a glorious afternoon of nature play for Dino Man and myself.
 He loved the little playhouse and spent some time fixing dinner for us. Thankfully he doesn't expect me to go whole hog and actually eat his sticks and leaves soup. As long as I keep up the pretending, he's happy.

He found a stick shaped like a Y at one end and a P at the other. He's starting to dictate when he wants me to take a picture, so I took a picture of his Y stick for him.
 He loves getting his picture made with Mommy! He keeps getting closer to the camera though to look at himself before the picture is taken. This cracks me up and leaves me with many pictures of my forehead and his nose.
 When we visited Colorado Springs this summer we visited the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center where Dino Man used paint brushes to brush away dirt and "find" dinosaur bones. Apparently this had a huge impact on him because the instant he saw the paint brushes he went hunting for "more dinosaur bones." Although we never found any, we had loads of fun hunting.
 Back to the playhouse!
This particular area was designed of all natural semi-built fort structures. I have to say of all the areas we've been to play here in the Twin Cities. This Green Play Yard at the Arboretum is the best.

They also had a Children's Garden which is planted, grown, and harvested by area school children. After walking around it, I was a bit disappointed in my own attempts at gardening in the past. These kids had HUGE flowers and vegetables. We even got to see a small garter snake disappear under some vines.

The final section we visited was their tropical greenhouse where kids can be hands on with the plants. Dino Man really enjoyed touching all the different kinds of leaves and even feeling, carefully, the spiky cacti available. We smelled some lemon balm and rosemary and were able to "water" the plants with spray bottles designed for just that purpose.

We drove around a 3-mile trail loop afterward to see the rest of the Arboretum and I must say, I'm convinced we need to go back, and maybe even buy a membership next year! Especially since they host regular homeschool days throughout the year.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My "Rustic Dream Syndrome"

I just finished reading this blog post by Amanda Dusick over at Crappy Pictures. She is hilarious!


Her trip to a small town county fair reminded me of my childhood and how many hours I spent preparing for our own version of the county fair. We showed goats one year, then realized how much work that really was. We quickly returned to our more "genteel" crafts. I went to the State Fair three times- once for floral arrangement, once for a speech a friend and I gave, and once for my yeast bread. All three trips to the State Fair were traumatic.

When I took my flower arranging, I almost missed the entire thing as we couldn't find parking. When I took the bread, the judge cut into a HUGE air bubble. The speech was a disaster as I dropped the clippable microphone near the sewing machine and no one could hear anything I said. Wow.

Still I treasure my memories of small town childhood. There are definitely some negatives to small town life, but I choose to remember the wonderful times.

At our county fair one year a farmer's son turned his Jeep Wrangler into a tub on wheels. I'm still not sure how he accomplished that, but boy was it fun.

I remember spending hours caring for fruits and vegetables from planting to weeding and picking. Then pickling, canning, or freezing the abundance. My favorite day of the year was "corn picking day" where we spent the whole day picking an acre of corn, shucking, silking and prepping for freezing. The best part was the big pot of corn on the cob for dinner that night. There is still nothing better than fresh corn on the cob.

All these memories stir in me what Amber in her blog post refers to as "rustic dream syndrome". I remember how much I enjoyed my own childhood and wish that for my own son. The reality was, I reaped the benefit of a lot of adult work, and I'm not sure I'm really interested in doing all that adult work myself. Plus, my grandparents had the benefit of around 20 extended family members to show up when needed.

So, for today, we visit the State Fair and the county fair and pick apples and pumpkins and berries and what have you. We hit the farmer's market and eventually, I will teach my boys to prep fresh food for canning and pickling and freezing, but in amounts that we could actually store, rather than enough to feed entire neighborhoods. I want them to appreciate my rural upbringing as well, even if I don't want to relive it for myself.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Filling my cup helps me be a better Mom

When Dino Man was about six months old, I realized I was very stressed out and starting to feel depressed. As I thought about why, I realized I hadn't taken much time for myself since he had been born.

We are what I like to call free-range attachment parents, which means we spend a lot of time with our children, especially when they are young. However, I do not advocate martyring yourself for your kids. My mother did that quite often, and she was always stressed out.

As part of the solution to me being stressed, my husband suggested I take a few hours once a week to myself to go do something that "fills my cup." Initially, this included time at the library and roaming around craft stores. These days it tends to be more intentional, though I still do enjoy kid-free time at the library and roaming around craft stores.

The main thing I've learned from this is that if I have nothing to give my family, I'm not just not helping them, I may be harming them. When I feel at peace in my soul, I have more patience with my toddler and my husband, and also for myself. I spend less time berating them for not being what I want them to be and more time appreciating them for who they are. This is crucial to my goal as a mother to model for my children the kind of person I want them to be.

I've got a Mom's Night Out coming up with some attachment parenting friends that I'm looking forward to, and I get to give a little talk this week about a topic near and dear to my heart. Both events that "fill my cup."

What are you doing to fill your cup so you have something to give to the world?

Long Weekend Round Up

What a nice long weekend!

My dad and step-mom stopped in for a short visit on their "around the country" extravaganza. We spent half a day at the MN State Fair (which is awesome!), and a couple of hours at the Mall of America (it's a mall, meh). Of course, the best part of all this was spending time with them. Wish we had more time together, but they are movers and shakers and follow the call of the wanderlust.

We all had a blast at the State Fair. I've been to a few state fairs in my time, Kentucky, Illinois and Arkansas. The MN State Fair is something special. We spent five hours there and covered about 1/3 of what you could see. I never even saw a goat, which is usually a requirement. We took Dino Man through the Little Farm Hands exhibit where he got to "feed" farm animals in exchange for cow's milk, sheep's wool, and a chicken's egg. He could then "sell" these at the Farmer's Market, make money, and buy something from the store. The highlight for my husband was the free pints of ice cream for the adults at the end. He ate mine too.

Dino Man loves to ride buses, trains, and pretty much anything else that's not a car, so we took a short ride on the trolley while we were there. He also enjoyed the bus ride to and from the fair. We probably could have ridden the bus and not gone to the fair and he would have considered it a successful venture.

While we were roaming around the Education Building (tractors AND robots!), he found a balloon some other unfortunate soul had left behind. He made good use of it while waiting for Daddy to finish up looking at exhibits.

After visiting the Pet Center (paw prints, just like on Blue's Clues!), we all determined we were exhausted and it was getting crowded, so back to the bus we went. While waiting on the bus to return home, I snapped this pic of a very tired Daddy and little boy. 

A successful trip overall! 

How did you round out your summer? 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend Round-Up

Boy, did we ever have a busy weekend! With a good dose of being lazy thrown in as well.

Saturday we were honored to be able to visit a friends little boy for the first time since his birth. He is so sweet! They have a little girl who loves to play with Dino Man, so it was fun for the older two to hang out as well.

We also went to an attachment parenting group lunch where Dino Man ran around for a solid hour playing in the sand at the park playground. That ended up with a bath right before naptime to get all the sand off.

After nap we attended the 4th Annual Breastival of Nursing, held locally. This is an interesting idea, which should be franchised or something. Three professional photographers make themselves available for short, 15-minute shoots for mom and baby(ies) for a low-fee, $20. Ours was even cheaper because we got in on the early deal. Unfortunately, Dino Man does NOT nurse on my demand (hasn't ever really), so we got some nice family pics and belly pics and then just some of him. Maybe one of him possibly close to my breast, but not likely. He wanted to play on the swing set instead.

Sunday we attended church, par usuale, and heard a nice homily (we're Catholic, so they aren't just sermons). We have an older priest who is in charge and some people argue that he needs to retire, but I find that when I ask God for guidance to hear His words for me, I always hear nuggets from the homily. This weekend, I was reminded to reset my goal daily using my internal "God-compass", and to practice spiritual discipline in my life daily.

As a woman who detests regularity, discipline is especially hard for me to enthusiastically embrace. However, as I age and become more other-focused and less me-focused, I find daily disciplines can be very comforting, especially in times of upheaval.

Sunday afternoon was spent lazing on the couch catching up with Lost (I am aware it's been off the air for awhile). We don't have cable or satellite, so enjoy watching an occasional adult show (NOT that kind of adult show, though I'm not judging you if you're into that!). Anything that doesn't have a curious monkey in it or a blue colored dog is fine by me most days.

Tonight we head to another midwife appointment. We are on the two-week part of the rotation, which I'm sure will dwindle down to every week at some point. I've eaten a little extra protein today to make sure my protein count is where it should be.

Probably the most exciting thing that happened this weekend occurred last night. My hubs was ironing all his work shirts for the week ahead (I don't iron). Dino Man got too close and ended up burning his little hand on the iron. We were all quite emotional and stricken by the experience. Thankfully, Dino Man's just got one blister on his hand and mostly 1st degree burns limited to one hand and a leg. God bless mayoclinic.com which had at hand information on how to treat a minor burn. Here's hoping I won't need that information anytime soon again!

Hope you all had weekends chock full of fun, family and friends as well!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Parenting Book Junkie

I am a parenting book junkie. I read them all, assuming each one has at least one nugget of gold buried in it. This is not always the case, but I can't bring myself to assume something about a book without at least giving it a chance. Thank goodness for the library!

I'm currently reading Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort. It was recommended by a few people who parent in similar ways to ours. And it is chock full of gold nuggets!

One of the things I struggle most with while parenting my almost 3-year old Dinosaur Man is that often I am overwhelmed by feelings of being a child myself. My childhood was not ideal, though not abusive, but I do harbor scars from growing up in an "If you don't stop crying, I'll give you something to cry about" household.

My biggest scar is a struggle to be authentic in my own emotions and to help my son authentically express his emotions in a safe manner. This book is perfect for this issue!

Aldort offers a mnemonic device for recalling how to interact with an emotional child called S.A.L.V.E. It is specifically designed to help a parent make the shift from reacting based on old tapes to acting in the way the parent chooses to act. The S stands for Separate - meaning I need to separate myself from my child's behavior and emotions, which is my biggest struggle.

She gives strategies to do this and yesterday, for the first time, I talked Dinosaur Man through a tantrum at the McDonald's Playland (don't judge, it was hot out!), using this approach. Strangely (or probably, not so strangely), I felt much more calm after using her approach and separating myself from Dino Dude's emotions. Usually I feel exhausted after these exchanges.

Now does this mean I'm the perfect parent? No way. No how. I find it actually easier to gently parent my child when out in public while others observe, than I do at home. If the angry old-tapes of my own childhood get going while I'm at home, I struggle to ignore them and choose to act a different way. Obviously, I still have a lot of growing up to do, but at least I know I'm moving in the right direction today.

How do you separate your own childhood "tapes" from the way you choose to parent your children today?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I've got PUPPP. I didn't know what it was either.

" If you're going to get PUPPP, you're going to get it."

That is a depressing sentence for me. During my first pregnancy I got a weird rash on the bottom half of my stomach, but didn't really think anything about it and attributed it to maternity clothing. Apparently, it has an actual name. According to whattoexpect.com, PUPPP stands for "pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy." No wonder they call it PUPPP.

So the down and dirty of this is that it's most likely to happen to first-time moms who are carrying boys or multiples. Also pregnancy induced hypertension is linked to likelihood of getting PUPPP.

I must be really special because I am not a first time mom, though I am carrying a boy. Just lucky that way, I guess. Thankfully it goes away after birth, most of the time. Only a few more months of mild itching to put up with!

Monday, August 19, 2013

UnLearning Everything I Thought I Knew

I've spent the last nine years or so un-learning the things I thought I knew about life. This has taken place in spits and starts.

I come from a fairly traditional family background. Grew up in a small town. My grandparents were "city farmers", which my grandfather described as a farmer who had a regular job in town. I lived two doors down from them on ten acres. My hometown had just under 7,000 people in it, and is the official home of Superman.

My parents were married for almost exactly 35 years before my Mom passed away. I have a younger sister. We were a lot like the ideal family from the outside. I was taught that kids go to school, parents go to work, and the world keeps spinning around. I was disciplined regularly for things that now seem like tiny infractions, however, my parents were very authoritarian.

Needless to say I grew up not questioning authority very much. I went to college and spent six years earning a four year degree and a husband. (He was worth the extra two years.)

We moved around a bit after we were married and settled down in my hometown in the same house I grew up in. All was well in the world, until the day my Mom died in a tragic farm accident. She was only 53 and the person I considered to be my best female friend.

Devastating does not begin to describe the situation. It tore our family apart in more ways than one. I eventually moved away because I couldn't take all the drama from the extended family.

But what my Mom's death gave me was an opportunity to really look at and question all that my life had been up to that point. I discovered I was an addict and joined the appropriate 12-step program. I began to learn who I was away from all the small town expectations of my family. I also began the process of un-learning that I will continue to document here.

It didn't really start until I became pregnant with my first son (who is now almost 3!). I realized I didn't really know what kind of parent I wanted to be. I did know I didn't want to parent the way I was raised. It left some scars I would prefer not to imprint on my own children.

I started reading about natural birth and breastfeeding and peaceful/gentle parenting and suddenly a whole world opened up to me. Through the process of birthing my son, I realized I had more power in me than I thought.

Now I've come to un-learn a few ideas about schooling that I hadn't expected to question, as you see, my degree is in education. I taught high school English for about five years after substituting for a few years. My husband was a music teacher for about five years as well, before he left for a more lucrative position in the private sector.

The one thing that hasn't changed in my thinking is that I need to be a stay-at-home Mom. My mother was a SAHM, and I felt it was really important for me as a child to have her there at least until I went to school, though she stayed at home even after that.

Today, I consider myself a homebirthing, ecological breastfeeding, non-vaccinating, intactivist, unschooler, who is constantly wanting to learn more about the alternatives to traditional life.

So this is the story of my journey to un-learning all the things I was taught by our culture and my parents prior to realizing I could make choices for myself.

my inspiration