Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I Chose a Home Birth

{This is my journey. It is not meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable or wrong. Every one's birth story is special. Whether the baby came out the old fashioned way or through your nose. Please just enjoy our adventure with us.}

First off, I am not the home birthing type. Seriously. I had never read any pre-baby book besides What to Expect When You're Expecting and that was just because someone had given it to me. *If you own What to Expect When You're Expecting, please trash it now. What a silly, unhelpful book.* Back to who I was before our home birth choice. I never questioned how babies came out. You go to the hospital and push out your baby. That's it. That's all I cared to know and trusted that's how it all went down.

With my first baby, I was 21. Gosh, that's young. Anyway, I was gonna have my baby. {You can imagine a big smile and starry eyes here} I went in for my first prenatal and the popular Dr walks in, claps his hands together and says with a laugh, Okay, take off all your clothes. Hahahaha. Just kidding. Um, I am a modest person. Even an immodest person would have cringed or at least decked him. So, I transferred to the new physician in the office. At least his was much kinder and didn't have a raunchy sense of humor.

With our first baby we didn't want to know the gender. But my kinder physician took a look at the baby with a sonogram and told us what we were having anyway. And that was the beginning of no one listening to me. We wanted a natural birth and to not be induced. Remember, I had not taken the initiative to educate myself. I was trusting my physician to stand up for me. *You cannot do this. Home birth or hospital birth. Please read and educate yourself. At least you can make informed decisions. Learn from my naivete.*

Tristan was a week overdue. My Dr wanted to induce. I was fighting him. Brett was standing with me. Then he pulled the it's safer for your baby...he's just getting's dangerous for him to stay in...And because I wanted to be the best momma possible, I caved. They did the non stress test, which went without a hitch, and monitored me for contractions. Surprise, I was having tiny contractions. I just didn't know what they were. New sensations and all. My body was getting ready on it's own. Hind sight, I would have said no induction. But sweet little old people pleasing me went on ahead.

I was so excited to get my baby. I went in with stars still in my eyes. The Dr broke my water immediately. {insert the hindsight gasp here} Then started me on pitocin--which he asked for the max dosage. I ended up having contractions that lasted so long, they just wouldn't stop. I was exhausted and the baby seemed to be moving up instead of down. After me just being in extreme pain and exhausted, I consented to an epidural. I fell asleep and about three hours later a nurse woke me up to check me. Um, the baby was coming out! Thanks for not checking on me earlier!! Then Baby Tristan's heart rate showed signs of distress. After 15 minutes of pushing, the Dr said if he didn't come out in the next two pushes that would use a vacuum. There are more details to this, but if you've read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, she sums it up in her writing on the topic of inductions and pitocin. I cried when I read those paragraphs. I didn't know. It's my fault for not educating myself. It's my Dr's fault for not taking better care of us.

The Dr actually warned me as Tristan was crowning that he may not be breathing but that was okay. (!!) Baby Tristan came out ticked off. What a wail! For good reason. I'm so thankful for the protection over him and his birth. We made so many mistakes. And the last insult to our injury was that the Dr pulled on my placenta and blood went everywhere. You DO NOT do that. And then he said that my placenta was rotting and that was why T's heart rate was in distress and why that blood gushed everywhere. Ya, that's why. The high dose of pitocin, lack of monitoring and yanking my placenta out had nothing to do with it.

Ironically, I was still starry eyed and trusting.

Alex was born 3 years and 5 days later. I had terrible prenatal care and hated my Dr. Once again, he was billed as the best and most popular. I was very sick and would faint throughout my pregnancy with Alex. I told my Dr this repeatedly and he was not concerned. I finally had another Dr check it out and my pancreas was shutting down, I was dehydrated (from throwing up constantly) and anemic on top of a host of other things, but these are the things that stand out now. I did not want my Dr to deliver this baby. I didn't trust him. I went into labor on my own this time--I remember being so excited that I let out a happy squeal when I lost my mucous plug. I was already feeling victorious. Whoa baby! Real contractions are nothing like the minutes long pitocin induced contractions. The Dr on call would end up becoming my OB. Dr B, love him! So kind. So gentle. So thorough. Alex was born with a head full of white hair. Dr B didn't clean the baby. He caught Alex and immediately put him on my chest. He gave us time and it's like the nurses knew to not interrupt. My placenta delivered on its own with very little bleeding. In hindsight, I see that Dr B was an advocate for gentler births. The only thing I can find issue with is that he did break my water as well. We were in and out of the hospital in 20 hours or so. It was a good birth experience.

Isaac, our little imp, came into our lives 17 months later. I had great prenatal care. Dr B is a wonderful, competent physician. As the due date approached, I became very overwhelmed with hope that Dr B would be the physician on call. I woke up at 1 am to the familiar loss of mucous plug which signaled the beginning of labor with Alex. I was excited again! And then I realized, Dr B was not on call. Dr C was. Dr C was a lady. Dr C ends up being the Dr that made me look outside the hospital for an alternative birth.

Dr C broke my water, and I don't know what that woman did, but it felt like I had been stabbed with a knife. So much so that I shrieked and screamed. That should was the warning of things to come. I had been told by the nurses not to deliver anytime soon because they had two c-sections to perform. Great. I did get an epidural with Isaac as well. It was a light epidural. I could still feel the contractions and the baby coming down. I told the nurse that I needed to push. They called Dr C. Dr C was in the hallway where my mother and family friend were. She said to stall me so she could go have lunch. I started feeling like I was going to burst. I told the nurse I had to push now--that I could feel the baby and he was hurting me! Not in the normal pain--we were being harmed. She placed her had over me and said, "Please don't. If there is a shoulder issue, I don't know how to deal with it."

After a full 30 minutes and me in tears, Dr C arrived with a smile while I was in visioning kicking her in the face. Issac came out head and all with the one and only push. Isaac had swallowed quite a bit of fluids and there was quite a bit of meconium in them. By the end of the night, Isaac had to have his tummy pumped because he was having so much trouble.

Dr C does this tick with her tongue. She speaks, ticks, speaks, ends with a tick. While we're waiting for my placenta to deliver, she was ticking. And she too pulled my placenta out. SO DANGEROUS. I did loose quite a bit of blood. It took them a while to stop the bleeding. The nurses were very concerned. The Dr said I was bleeding so much because I was a red head. {It is my fault for not educating. It is her fault for being impatient and reckless.}

After going home, I began to realize that I could not urinate without extreme pain. I sat in a sitz bath of scalding hot water just to go to the bathroom. I called Dr B to have it checked out. Turns out, because Baby Isaac was stalled in the delivery process he rubbed a sore inside of me. When Dr B found out what happened he was horrified and apologetic. I appreciated his kindness but knew right then, if we ever had another child, I could not count on him to be the on call Dr.

I heard the local midwife speak with a panel on women's health. That started the gears turning. We found out that I was pregnant with Alaina and I felt at a loss. I knew I couldn't do the hospital again. We went and spoke with the midwife, J, and had all of our questions answered. We had A LOT. Brett went into that meeting on the fence. He came out and said, "I think you should home birth." I went to my OB for an ultra-sound. Between Isaac's and Alaina's pregnancies, we had had a miscarriage. Miscarriages make you jumpy. I just wanted to see or know the baby inside was alive and well. Dr B verified everything for us. He had left the practice he was at and was now just focusing on GYN. He asked who I would be using for this pregnancy and I told him we were considering home birth. He said he thought I was a great candidate for home birth and gave his approval.

Two things solidified my resolve in the home birth decision. One was my risk assessment. To see a licensed midwife, you have to have a risk assessment. I went to see a nurse/midwife called P. P was awesome. But the risk assessment caught me off guard. It didn't only include the usual tests that you get with your first prenatal visit. No, she had to look at my gums and pound on my kidneys and host of other things. You see, all of those things could indicate a complication or pre-term labor. I felt like this is something that needs to happen in regular clinic visits for hospital births. That's when I began realizing the difference in the midwifery model of care vs. the ob/gyn model. My risk assessment, my prenatal visits were such whole visits. Not just waiting for something to go awry but preventing it, being aware while still recognizing this as a normal function of the woman's body.

The second thing that made me confident in our choice was educating myself. J has bookshelves full of books that she lets her clients check out. I read until I couldn't read anymore. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth {second half} was the straw that made this camel stand up taller. I felt like she was every woman's grandmother imparting wisdom and encouragement. Knowledge destroyed every fear I had leading up to Alaina's birth. The day I went into labor, I never thought what if?, I thought let's do this!

So for those who thought I was crazy or am crazy, I say don't blame me, blame my OB's. I understand not everyone agrees, but I do ask that you read and research before you argue with some one's choice to have a home birth. Usually a home birther has done the research and is not making some off the wall decision. We care about our babies and families. We are doing what is right for us. And I'll say this. I would love to be a home birth advocate, but that's unrealistic. I am a gentle birth advocate. There is so much we can do to make the birth process simpler, safer, and gentler no matter where you have your baby. I have hard feelings toward the OB's who took my pregnancy and babies for granted, but I'm also thankful in a way that they helped open my eyes.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pieces of Me

I have a good life. Really. But my life would make some women cringe and wither. I mean, I'm currently living on a mountain in the middle of no where in a {maybe} 900 sq ft house that contains 4 children while incubating another that is due around the time we hope to move into our big house next spring. But I get to be around my children every day. Every moment. Yes, sometimes that makes me gasp for air, but mostly it makes my heart sing.

I never knew this piece of me existed before I met Brett. I had convinced myself I would never marry and that I could not have children. Not would not, could not. I think that just comes from my tumultuous childhood. Just didn't want to be a parent, didn't think I could be. I thought I'd live as a single woman all of my days with my dog and fish in some big city working as linguist traveling to Europe, the Middle East and Japan.

When Brett and I were first twitter-pated with one another, he said he wanted 4 or 5 kids. Um...I said the max would be 2. Here we are expecting number 5. It just amazes me that that piece I never knew existed, surfaced and was healed.

Now, my real future and present is me being a momma. I've not jetted around the world. There are times that I still dream in Japanese. I wake up excited and disappointed. A piece of me mourns that never realized future. But then I look at my bed filled sleeping imps--a baby girl and two little boys who infiltrated during the night. Brett, still in a deep sleep, unaware that one of the boys has thrown his leg across Brett's chest. If I was given a glimpse of both futures, I hope that glimpse would have contained the feeling that swells in my chest when I see my family. That feeling of THIS is IT, this is what life is about.

It's about the stuffy noses, the cups of drinks that get spilled, the arguments among brothers, the bad attitudes and sleep rebellion. It's also the sweet cuddles and smiles, the helping hands while making brownies, the giggles among the same brothers, the fort building genius, and sweet good night songs and kisses.

Yes, this mothering piece of me would squash that other potential future. I still hope to see Japan--just with my kids in tow. You know, we homeschool--living education and all that jazz...

We went to Ft Smith this past weekend to see the Nina and Pinta replicas that are sailing through. I am not a Ft Smith fan. I think of it as generally dirty and dangerous. To this mountain dwelling woman, the site of the River Valley was most welcoming. The air carried with it a bit of familiar, the horizon didn't have a mountain in sight. A piece of me, the Central Arkansas piece of me came alive. I became quite the chatter box. If you think I talk a lot now, you should come back home with me.

There is a piece of me that comes alive when I think of flat land, hot, sweltering summers, deep accents that go back generations, four wheeling at night, trucks with lifts. Yep, that redneck side of me comes alive.

I never drive home, especially at night. Usually it's because these dang roads make me so sick, but after our romp in the River Valley I couldn't quiet my spirit. Talking and driving while Brett dozed on and off. A piece of me that had laid dormant for too long was alive! My voice was starting to give toward the end, the result of not talking then suddenly awakening my voice.

If we were in the position to just buy any home we wanted, we would buy a house on the lake in Heber Springs. One with a basement two stories underground. You see, the biggest reason we don't live that direction is the tornadoes. I hate tornadoes. Yes, they could happen here, but it's less likely. There, it is guaranteed. The second thing that keeps me away is my terrible fear of the New Madrid fault line. Yep, I enjoy moonlighting as a conspiracy theorist and I know that thing is going to go. I feel even here is a little too close for comfort.

But this piece of me, unlike the business woman piece, that may never be realized and I want it to be. I miss it. My trips back are too few and far in between. This piece of me hopes to awaken again soon.

And then there is the piece of me that lies quiet on purpose. That piece of me stays here, awake, with me as I'm typing. It's the piece that says, sure I'll move to Newton County where I have no friends and the nearest grocery store is over an hour away and I'm guaranteed to throw up on the way home because I'm so car sick.

So, that piece endures. Endures the FB updates of her friends and posts of "had such a great time with so and so" and knows that if she hadn't moved, her name would be there or we would be in a set tagged photos. FB is like watching my life go by before me. The piece that said sure let's go seems to just press on, but also misses her friends. This piece is getting by and hasn't really cried about her loss. Then we went on the field trip to the battlefield and saw a few of my closest friends. That was followed by a couple of fantastic phone conversations from friends I hadn't talked to since the move. The week that followed was really emotionally rough. Just on the inside, I was turning and turning the emotions. That quiet piece was growing sad and uneasy. This piece of me worries about how long this long distance thing will work.

Friendships are built on commonalities and life experiences shared together. How long can that go on if you see each other every three months or so?

This piece of me is hopeful that I'll make friends here. But at the same time, this piece is also unwilling to put myself out there. I've already been at the end of the gossip chain concerning my parenting skills and homeschooling ability here. This piece of me is becoming hardened. In my immediate area, the nicest people have been the atheists, the hippies and the Jehovah's Witness. So, this piece of me is really feeling like I'll not have any vested friendships. Of course, this feeling is marred by the fact that our vehicles have been malfunctioning since we moved here. Once that is straightened out, I plan on meeting up with a lady I seem to have quite a bit in common with. Transportation has not been on our side.

This is where I've been the last couple of weeks. Struggling with this piece of myself. Finally cried about it this weekend. Not just a tear or watering in my eyes but a good sob. Self pity is repulsive and I took a good swim in it Saturday morning. Picking myself up out of the muck and trusting that the Lord is holding this piece of me. Knowing what I need and who I need.

These are just a few pieces of me that have come out recently. Aren't we a complicated creation?
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homeschool Files: Field Tripping--Owls and Battlefields

The boys were able to attend a field trip with the "local" homeschool group. By local, I mean we only drove an hour and 20 minutes instead of an hour and 45 minutes. I was a little nervous meeting new moms, a new group, new people...But they were so welcoming and kind.

We headed to Lake Dardanelle where a park ranger taught us about owls, and we dissected owl pellets. My friends know that I have a fascination with owls, so this was such a welcome lesson. The boys loved using their brushes and tweezers to extract the bones. They took turns being the excavator, the cleaner and the identifier. Professor X loved being the identifier. Our owl enjoyed a dinner of a bird (we had part of its head with beak attached) and a mouse. Yum!

The visitor center at Lake Dardanelle is wonderful, filled with aquariums containing local fish, lots of sensory stations, even a station where you can terrorize, I mean touch turtles, a bee hive, and more. My kids spent a good deal of time in there.

Oh, here's another picture of the therapeutic owl pellet dissection. Seriously, they got into this lulling zone. I need to order some just for meltdowns.
And you know that my kids put their bones in a plastic baggie and brought them home. Oh yes, they did--we still have them.

I should mention that these aquariums showcase why I don't swim in rivers or lakes.

Those! Those! They are why I don't swim in our waters.
We went and played at a playground near the lake. Well the boys played while I got to know the ladies who are so very, very nice. Some have familiar Southern accents that make me homesick. By homesick, I mean my childhood home, where it's flat and we all talk the same and don't think twice about it.

My T asked if he could play near the lake. I granted his request knowing full well he was going to get a little wet. It's T plus water. It's guaranteed. However, the lake seemed to somehow swallow him and his brothers. My children were the only children drenched. I wasn't surprised but I wasn't pleased either. We had a long drive home including a stop to pick up food. They smelled wonderful. {dripping with sarcasm} Anyway, on to happier thoughts...

Last week, we attended a field trip at Prairie Grove Battlefield with our former local homeschool group filled with some of our favorite people.

Lady Bug was loose for part of the field trip being sweetie baby cutie cutie.

Okay, so we have a confession. We have been on this field trip before. Like 2 years ago, I think. At that trip, the man, same man pictured below, called for a volunteer and my T-Bird was the only one who raised his hand.

Wellllll, he had been practicing all week before this trip on his hand raising skills in case they called for a volunteer again. He even went so far as to have me call for a volunteer and he would raise his hand.

Sooooo, that explains why he is the volunteer here. I let him have his fun. We'll not be part of this group next year. His last hoorah.
My soldier boy.

He looks a little too much like Dopey. My little dwarf.
It's been tough having the kids around other kids--or lack or rather. We're not used to that, but we're making it. We enjoyed our time with both groups and are very thankful for them.
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