"Parents are like shuttles on a loom. They join the threads of the past with threads of the future and leave their own bright patterns as they go."
-Fred Rogers

Monday, August 30, 2010

Becoming Comfortable in your "Mommy Skin" (or Growing your "Mom Balls")

Today I had a really enlightening experience. My 5 year old stayed home from Kindergarten because she was up all last night with ear pain. Since she's been awfully cranky for the past few days and she isn't one to complain about sicknesses if they don't exist, we decided a visit to the doctor might be in order.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I work often with doctors, nurses, and midwives. I feel very comfortable around medical professionals, and even though I do have "white coat syndrome" (slightly elevated blood pressure when in a dr. office or hospital), I consciously feel amazingly relaxed and at ease when talking with a doctor. I've noticed, however, that this isn't the norm for most moms, especially in my neighborhood and the surrounding area. Most moms I know, even "experienced" moms, still get a bit nervous when going to dr. visits.

I hear women often say how they tell little white lies because they are "afraid" of what their doctor might say or think if they told the truth about issues such as their choices regarding feeding or sleeping habits of their babies and children. And when speaking with women about their childbirth experiences or other encounters with the medical world I hear women talk about what they "weren't allowed" to do or how they had to ask permission to do something during their labors or hospital stays. I have never really understood this way of thinking and have always found it a little wild when I meet a strong willed woman who sounds meek when speaking of her doctor or her child's doctor.

It could be because I have 4 kids and have thoroughly grown my "mom balls", but really, I remember being like this even when I had one child. Then again, I had to really "take the bull by the horns" and demand that someone listen to us about my daughter's sleep issues. And after 4.5 years of changing doctors and not accepting the notion that "we just weren't being firm enough with Cora", we finally found out that Cora has epilepsy. If I had been afraid of the doctors and just blindly followed their advice my daughter would still be up all night, every night, suffering daily from exhaustion.

So, with all of that being said, here is the really cool experience I had today...

There are two M.D.'s and one nurse practitioner at the family practice we use in our neighborhood. We usually see the nurse prac. but today we saw the newer doc who is female and on the younger side. The doctor walked in and we chatted a bit about my daughter's symptoms. She examined Syd and even asked if I wanted to look in Syd's ears, which is why I love this doc so much. She explains everything thoroughly, explains risks and benefits of everything, and obtains truly informed consent. And she wants you to be part of your own care and/or your child's care.

After determining that Syddie has double ear infections the doctor told me that she is expecting again in February. After congratulating her the doc began to ask me for advice. Yes, you read that right...my child's family physician was asking ME for parenting advice. She said that she was nervous about having two so close in age and since she knows I had my first 2 fifteen months apart and I have 4 kids she values my thoughts. I told her that her best bet is to breastfeed and to co-sleep so she gets as much rest as possible and keeps the baby as content as possible. She smiled and said, "Yeah, I was thinking of doing that. That is really good advice. Thank you."

The doc then asked me my opinion about her choice of birthing provider and location and I gave her some suggestions. We talked about the midwifery model of care. Then she asked me my personal opinion and which provider I would choose. She asked me to be really honest.

It was awesome.

As I was leaving the doctor said, "Thanks so much for your advice. It means so much to get thoughts from an experienced mom. Nothing can prepare you to be a mom of multiple children, not even all the education I've had. Experiencing it is the only way to really know."

Wow...see moms, doctors are HUMAN. Don't be so afraid. Be honest with them. Follow your instincts and remember that no one is super human and all knowing. Trust yourself. You are a mom. And you are AWESOME.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Birth of Clementine Scarlet (Clemmie)

Leann and Clinton took HypnoBirthing with me at Little Company of Mary Hospital just a few months ago.  Below is the Birth Story of their daughter, Clementine Scarlet, through the eyes of Mom and Dad:

Leann's Perspective:

I woke up on the morning of April 30 experiencing some cramping. We were a full five weeks shy of Clementine’s due date so I called my OB to let her know the situation and get her advice. She asked that I go to the hospital, just to be monitored. I walked to meet my husband, Clinton, at work and then we walked to the hospital, checked in, and waited to see how the day would develop. Per my OB’s advice, I decided to stay the night in the hospital. I wasn’t experiencing any discomfort so I quickly became antsy in the hospital, either wanting to make some progress toward delivery or be able to return home. Earlier in the morning I had been working on my dissertation and I was anxious to return to the comfort of my own apartment and my work. In retrospect, I am surprised that I was not more worried about the possibility of premature delivery. I can only suppose that I had fully internalized the messages from the Rainbow Relaxation CD. If neither Clementine nor I was in distress, then I had to trust that my body and my baby were on the right track. I fell asleep that evening fairly sure that I would be released from the hospital the next morning but, in the middle of the night, my surges became more intense and regular. I moved around the room a bit, finally finding that the most comfortable position was kneeling on the floor with my upper body resting on the edge of the bed.

Just before dawn, my water broke. I don’t have a very clear sense of what happened after hearing Clinton inform the nurse that my water had broken. At some point, the urge to push became very strong. Despite the nurse’s request that I wait until a resident was present, I started to push. The sensation of pushing just felt right; it provided relief and satisfaction at the end of each surge. Clinton tells me that I just went into my own place during active labor, coming out of it only to respond to questions from the hospital staff. A friend present during Clemmie’s delivery said that I looked like I was asleep when I wasn’t pushing. I do remember lying very still in-between surges. I experienced deep relaxation during these moments, helping me to prepare for the next surge and push. Clementine Scarlet was born at 7:51am. Because she was considered premature, the NICU team was waiting. They spent about 2 minutes examining her, deemed her perfectly healthy, and placed her on my chest. She was amazingly awake and alert only moments after delivery.

Looking back on her delivery, I have marveled at how effortless it all was. While it was a physically intense experience, I didn’t have to coordinate or orchestrate anything. My body knew exactly what to do and I simply followed its queues. Simply amazing! Clinton and I have been blessed with a wonderful little girl who, despite her early delivery, is absolutely happy and healthy.

Clinton’s perspective:

Looking back on Clementine’s delivery, I am convinced that all of the time and energy that Leann and I put into preparing for that day, both in our HypnoBirthing classes and on our own, really paid off. We had worked very hard to put ourselves in a positive and, above all, flexible frame of mind. When Leann started experiencing surges five weeks ahead of the due date, all that preparatory work enabled us to be perfectly comfortable taking everything in stride. If Clementine was ready to be born, she would be born, and although we had expected to have another month or so to get ready for her arrival, we nevertheless felt very well prepared mentally and emotionally to deal with the demands of birth and parenting as we encountered them. We also had a really excellent experience in this regard with the University of Chicago Hospital personnel, all of whom carefully read and respected our birth plan—even reminding us of our own wishes from time to time—and were extremely circumspect in their efforts to avoid intruding upon our experience. When Leann’s water broke and the delivery process started, she effortlessly shifted into the intense relaxation that she had been practicing—she needed virtually no assistance from me. For me, this really affirmed that any lingering concerns we might have had about our readiness for this process were unfounded. The ease of the entire process from start to finish, and the relaxed, positive mood that we had worked so hard to foster, really enabled us to observe and enjoy every aspect of the experience, without the slightest trace of panic or uncertainty.

Welcome to the world Clemmie!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Birth of Atticus Willey

I spoke with Adriana on the phone a few months before her beautiful baby boy came into this world.  She lived about an hour away from me and she and her husband were about to graduate from graduate school, but together we found a way to get her a HypnoBirthing class in time.  Below is the story of their son's birth, through the eyes of his mom.

 Our Birth Story

Ben, Adriana, and Atticus Willey

May 15 was a very big day for us but for different reasons than we originally thought. We went to bed with our graduation regalia laid out. Instead, we left with our robes and hospital bags!

I slept as soundly as is possible 9 months pregnant, using the rainbow relaxation to manage discomfort caused by my size and practice contractions. At 7:11 am I woke up to a soft popping sensation and then a gush of fluid. I knew immediately that my active labor had begun. While I knew that I was 100% effaced and at least 4 cm dilated, I was prepared for an all day process. After cleaning up and waking my husband, we took time to pray to express our excitement and ask for peace and safety. While we were praying, my second bag of water popped, along with a much more signficant gush of liquid.

As I was letting my parents, who were in town for our graduation, know that I was in labor, my surges began to intensify (this was about 15 minutes after my water broke). Ben and I had expressed to our midwife that I would like to labor at home as long as possible. And so, I calmly made a “honey to do” list for my parents to complete while we were at the hospital. Only a few minutes into my list, I began needing to lay down and concentrate through my surges. Ben was being very calm and encouraging as he spoke to the midwife on my behalf and began to time my surges.

About thirty minutes after my water broke, I was signficantly uncomfortable. I felt myself losing my ability to relax my body and to stay calm. I dreaded each surge. I was discouraged that I needed to go inside of myself so quickly into labor and felt fear that if this was only the beginning, I wouldn’t be able to endure until the end. In effort to return to a place of peace and trust, I took a bath in the dark and turned on rainbow relaxation. The surges only intensified to the point that I was moaning deeply and sweating. I called Ben into the bathroom to ask for his presence and support. While he was there I began pushing through my contractions and found that this siginficantly relieved the discomfort. It actually felt good! At this point, Ben gently but firmly decided that we needed to go the hospital. I TOTALLY agreed!

From this point on, I allowed my body to take over and simply did what it told me to do. I found myself getting on all fours, arching my back, moaning deeply, and pushing through each surge. The relief and satisfaction when I did this was intense! Though each surge was intense, I no longer felt fear, just a sense of relief and empowerment as I breathed my baby down.

The ride to the hospital was about 15 minutes. My husband was wonderfully calm as I laid in the back seat responding to my surges. We arrived to the hospital at 9:04 am, just shy of two hours since my water broke. The nurse who checked me called for a doctor; I was 10 cm and crowning. When the doctor arrived she instructed me to push (I didn’t need her to tell me! ). I asked if I could wait until I felt the need to push and if I could get into a more natural position than laying on my back. She said ok to both. After positioning myself on my side and waiting for another surge, I continued to breathe the baby down. And, at 9:12 am, only 8 minutes after arriving at the hospital and 2 hours of labor, Atticus Cai Willey was born.

The nurse laid him on my chest with the umblical cord still attached and we watched in awe as he found his way to my breast and nursed for the first time. It was truly a beautiful sight to behold!

My husband and I walk away from our first birth story describing it as incredibly intense, surprisingly intuitive, and deeply satisfying. We believe that our birth story was immeasurably helped by the calm and natural perspective that we learned from Tricia at our hypnobirthing classes. Thank you, Tricia, for showing us that birth can be and IS intuitive, natural, and, most of all, enjoyable!