Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer. Fun.

The past few months Jim and his brother have been running an informal soccer camp for kids three to six years old. Voluntarily. For free. In... heat. Not being what one would call a big sport's fan OR necessarily an "outdoorsy" type (is there an "indoorsy" type? 'cause that would be more me, in general) I find this very impressive of them. Although after seeing some of the pictures Jim took of one of their recent practices, I can see the appeal. Those sweaty little buggers ARE pretty cute. (There may also have been a hilarious video of Eli sternly lecturing the other kids not to take his ball or he was "going to get very very VERY angry!" but I felt perhaps it would reflect badly on us be unkind to post it.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Heavy Heart

So besides coming home to dog stains all over the living room (which did not come out all the way, SIGH) I also arrived home to some really bad news from two different family friends. First I heard that Anna, the SIL of my old babysitter, was in the hospital in a medically induced coma after falling off her bike and hitting her head, causing serious brain swelling. The worst part? She was forty weeks pregnant. They did an emergency c-section immediately before performing brain surgery on HER, and the baby is doing pretty well, but of course the family is not. And now they have a newborn baby for whom to care, as well as taking care of her two year old brother. They did another emergency surgery at four o' clock in the morning yesterday to remove more of her brain in an effort to further alleviate the swelling. At this point it seems like she'll make it, but she'll be in a coma at least another few weeks, and once they bring her back out, who knows what the lasting damage will be. It's just... it's awful. The worst part is that it was such a freak accident, and such an avoidable freak accident. It just makes me feel sick every time I think about it.

Then I found out that the sister of one of my high school friends was in the hospital delivering her baby girl at only eighteen weeks because of pPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes.) This is the second time this has happened to her; her last pregnancy ended at fifteen weeks when her water suddenly broke in a Miami airport on their way to vacation. Obviously, she, and her whole family, are just devastated. The baby was born alive, and lived for a few minutes before passing away, which I almost think would be even more excruciating than a stillborn. I don't know. I just have no context to even imagine such a thing. A miscarriage early on is SO different than actually holding your tiny baby and then saying goodbye. My heart just breaks for them. And I know she's going to be terrified to try yet again, even though they want one more.

So, you know, just please say a prayer or send a comforting thought their way if you happen to think of it. Especially for Anna, for her survival and recovery, and for her family, who are still waiting in a miserable and anxious limbo to find out what their new normal is going to be.

Monday, July 25, 2011


So this weekend we went to Canada again, to hang out on the beach for a few days with Jim's parents who are taking an (almost) two-week vacation at the cottage. His aunt was there too, a fun surprise, and it was a very relaxing trip except for, in no particular order:

-a baby whose top two teeth decided to start bulging from his gums about a nanosecond after we pulled out of the driveway, and who spent more or less the whole weekend wailing in misery with snot dripping from every orifice in his face.

-a big thunderstorm which killed the power the night of the yearly neighborhood luau (party hosts bravely soldiered on and it ended up actually being kind of fun, thanks to tiki torches and a battery powered ipod dock.)

-a line from the bridge at the border so incredibly long that we estimated, based on previous wait times, that we were going to be sitting there at least two hours. It was nearing dinnertime so we decided to pull out using the turnaround lane at the toll booth, head for Windsor, Ontario, and cross there instead. Except it turned out, after getting firmer directions from several fast food restaurant employees and gas station attendants, that Windsor was a TIDGE further away than we were thinking, so we ended up finding our way to some middle of nowhere, unpronounceable tribal reservation territory and crossing on this tiny, four vehicle FERRY instead, then finding our way back to Detroit where we FINALLY hooked back into our normal route home.

-storms both on the way there and back, the latter one so bad that at one point the car in front of us unexpectedly hit standing water under an overpass, lost control, and Jim had to blindly veer into the next lane to avoid hitting them, just as we ourselves had to go through the same water. I seriously have never felt so close to having a stroke as that moment- I had literally just looked up from my book (in which I had been buried, to distract myself from the stress of driving in the blinding rain) only to see all these cars ahead of us slamming on their breaks and/or hydroplaning, and us headed unavoidably into the same situation. My body tensed so hard before we hit the water that for the next half hour I was working the knots out of my back and shoulders.

-my getting food poisoning within twenty minutes of eating a highly suspect fast food burger. We drove around trying to find a bathroom, and when at last one was located, I left the baby with Jim and bolted from the van. But of course both kids decided they too needed to do Serious Business of their own, with which they also needed help (Eli's help including an OUTFIT CHANGE) all while I was still doubled over with stomach cramps. And naturally, a stranger needed to join us in my personal hell as well. This poor unsuspecting French Canadian woman walked into the McDonalds bathroom only to hear Eli wailing, "Someone come WIPE me!" as Addy held his door shut, snarling meanly, "You can't come out yet! Stay in there!" The woman asked in a worried (heavily accented) voice, "Can you let him out, dear? Are you children... alone in here?"

-finally, returning home to a lengthy note from my mom, who had watched the dog for us, detailing all the different places in the living room Fonz had had violent diarrhea which I am today waiting for the carpet cleaners to come extract from the rugs.

On the up side, I managed to finish Water for Elephants on the (lengthy) drive home!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

All Eventualities

So, I think I've mentioned a couple of times that I'm working through the required reading part of my doula training over the summer, right? And that in the fall I'm going to attend my various classes/workshops, and then right afterwards I have my first birth lined up? (!!) I'm very excited for the workshop part. VERY. I would have done it a lot sooner but it's a pretty intensive three day process, and you aren't allowed to bring babies older than six months to the sessions. AAAAAND even if I were allowed, I sure as heck WOULDN'T be bringing my wriggling, squirming, teething, not exactly crawling but sure not staying in one place, either, almost ten month old into a classroom of any sort. So, I'll be going in November, when Jameson will (oh pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease) be sleeping through the night, and probably only nursing in the morning and evening; i.e., missing me less AND on a schedule that won't require me to be running back to my room to pump every few hours.

Anyhoo. Long winded introduction to the thing rattling around my brain when I woke up this morning, which was what exactly my goals as a doula are. One of the books I've been reading lately (not actually required but I'm reading anything I can get my hands on right now, basically) is called The Doula Advantage, and something it talks a lot about is finding the right doula for you. Some doulas have a certain agenda, albeit unspoken and probably even unacknowledged in their own minds, of getting all of "their" moms through labor medication and intervention free. That is, it is a failure on the DOULA'S part if the mom ends up needing or wanting either of those things, so she has motivation that goes beyond simply trying to support the laboring mother's wishes.

This, obviously, is a problem, or at least is a problem if the laboring mother's wishes happen to differ from the doula's. It is especially a problem if the laboring mother's needs change during labor but the doula is not sensitive or respectful to that due to some prior dedication to an ideal of "natural" childbirth. Most doula clients, probably, go into childbirth hoping to avoid medication, but in some cases even the most passionate normal/natural labor advocates will admit an epidural (or a sedative or a shot of Stadol or whatever) can be the difference between a vaginal birth and a c section simply for lack of progress brought on by exhaustion. A dedication to drug-free labor at all costs is an unhealthy and unprofessional mindset for a doula. One of the things The Doula Advantage really stresses is that the job of the doula is to support, empower, reassure and inform the mother, but not to impose the doula's own opinions or preferences on her at any point.

It also talks about how a doula's presence at an epidural or c-section birth can actually be just as important as at a vaginal, drug free delivery, if not more so! Since most doula clients aren't planning for either of those things, they might be upset, feel stressed or confused, and, at a vaginal delivery, need a lot more coaching during the pushing stage if they are still numb enough not to feel the natural urge to push. A c section, especially first time and unplanned, can be very alarming to both parents, but a doula who has experienced this before (or at least studied it extensively) can be a very calming presence for both mom and dad.

This was something I hadn't really considered before, that a doula can be just as useful at a birth with interventions as during a completely drug free labor. This makes me really happy, because the birth I'm scheduled to attend is for a mom in her thirties, who hasn't given birth in almost fourteen years and who I know experienced a long labor the first time around and was quite happy with her epidural decision. Her doctor has told her that since it's been so long in between births, and since she's at an advanced maternal age (worst term ever!), her body may very well handle this baby just like a first baby and that labor may be long/difficult. (I have my own thoughts about practically setting someone up to dread their labor with all this negative talk, but whatevs.) The point is, I think she may be planning on an epidural at this point, and it's nice to know that whatever she decides, I can still offer support and information.

Having had a doula myself, twice, I certainly know what was helpful for me during unmedicated labors and births. When thinking back on the boys' births, these are the things I feel our doula did for me: helped me go over, out loud and on paper, any specific wishes we had re: hospital policy; encouraged me to visualize and discuss ways in which I hoped to cope with labor pain and how I hoped to be supported by Jim and Stacy; during the birth, with massage, counter pressure, company during a long, restless night when I wanted the rest of my "team" to be resting up to help me later (!), aromatherapy when I felt nauseous, reminders to eat, drink, and rest, music (she brought her ipod and speakers,) discussion about pros/cons when we were deciding when and if to have my water broke, position suggestions as we tried to rotate a sideways baby, and then a lot of verbal reassurance during a fairly rapid transition/descent stage, and gentle reminders about staying loose and opening my pelvis during pushing. This was really helpful since pushing is generally the roughest part for me, mentally, and I always go through this little stage of physically resisting it and trying to fight it back.

So now I at least have my own experiences to go on in terms of what was helpful for me, what I might have liked even more of, in retrospect, and also what was helpful/what wasn't so helpful at other births I've witnessed. What I'm hoping you all can tell me is what YOU would have found helpful if you had had a doula present with you for labor (including how you think a doula might have helped other people there supporting you.) Or, of course, what you DID like/didn't like if you did in fact have a doula. I'm especially interested in how your doula supported and helped you if you chose drugs/interventions right from the start, or how she helped you if you hadn't wanted those things but ended up choosing or needing them.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lord, Beer Me Strength

It is not quite nine o' clock in the morning, and I have already dealt with three separate and distinct temper tantrums, one of which ended with myself being slapped in the leg with surprising strength for a little kid. These episodes were interspersed with your more garden variety whining and moaning about such atrocities as not getting the correct spoon, not finding the favorite pants in the dresser drawer, etc. All this from the same child. Said child has been in time out twice already (once marched there quite firmly) and has had a toy taken away AND has had a couple of come-to-Jesus-style talks with Dad when my time outs were ignored.

Said child has also, while doing somewhat better on the Number One issue, been having some serious issues with the Number Two issue, and I must say that while I anticipated the stress and chaos and toys and temper tantrums, I never, never could have fully comprehended just how disgusting parenthood can be sometimes.

Oh, and I do even have to say that Said Child is of course also Middle Child? This right here is why I must have four, and why I think perhaps four is our magic number: no middle child. Though perhaps once a kid has been a middle child for any length of time, the damage (i.e. the world is against me and all is unfairness and woe!) is already done. Thoughts? Advice from adult middle children?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Checking In

Um, wow. How long has it been since I even got on here? Clearly that big move to my own site is going to happen any day now, seeing as I barely even bother to check my email most days so far this summer.

But it's good, honestly. This summer has been awesome so far, and promises to continue that way. Such a difference from last year, when I was waddling and contracting and generally miserable by mid July. This year, I am actually able to keep up with the three little sun-bleached blondies who adore being outside and ask for nothing more out of life than parks! and playgrounds! and pools! every day, please. Even baby boy is content to sit outside in his pack 'n' play for upwards of two hours at a time (with a sun cover!) and watch the older ones play while he practices his scooting and crawling skills.

Canada was wonderful (except for oh my word FORGETTING THE CAMERA) and we'll probably be back the end of the month with Jim's parents. We were in Michigan last weekend for a big family reunion/anniversary party, and that we lovely too, with some surprise swimming thrown in for the kids. And in between trips, it's all a giant blur of laundry and juice boxes and sunscreen and parks and pools and oh my, it's time to grocery shop AGAIN for more juice boxes. Time is flying, alarmingly. Addy will start school in less than two months. Jameson will be a year old in less than three. Neither of these situations is in the least acceptable. But I find that pints of Ben and Jerry's Peanut Brittle ice cream do soothe the soul.