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:

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?