Monday, October 31, 2011

A few of her favorite things...

It thrills the english major in me to see how much Paisley loves books.  

When we made the epic journey to Oklahoma and back in two days, 
books were the only thing that would capture-and hold- her attention.  

Peek-a-Who has a mirror on the last page.  
I think she spends the whole book in anticipation of looking at the cute baby at the end!

She loves books with tactile involvement

I didn't want to bore her (or you) by having her pose with ALL of her books one at a time.  So, the above books are her 'downstairs' set and the rest stay up in her book shelf for reading at diaper changes, bed time, etc.  
Here we have Guess How Much I Love You, Potty, Goodnight Moon, On The Night You Were Born (makes me tear up every time), The Rainbow Fish, Eating the Alphabet, Dear Zoo, pat the pony, Runaway Bunny, But not the Hippopotamus, Baby Plays Pat-Pat (she loves this one), Brown Bear, and A Very Hungry Caterpillar.  

Here are her toys.  She doesn't have very many, so they are all her favorites! 

Soft Block  from etsy

Cell Phone from etsy

 The owl toy stays in the car. It is jingly and crinkly and has a mirror. 

 I made these felted wool balls.  
I put them in a Nambe bowl and she dumps them out!
This is her favorite activity while sitting on her potty in the morning.  

 She plays a similar game with her toy box.  I put things in the box, she dumps them out!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I love baby wearing!  

It is no secret!  Lots of people do it!  

But why?

Well, I loved the whole attachment-parenting idea of keeping the baby close.  It is supposed to help baby regulate temperature and breathing, support bonding, and encourage a sleepy baby to nap (yay!).  

I prefer carriers that face the baby towards mama.  They are friendlier on baby's hips and mama's back.  Plus, baby can bury her face in mama's chest when the outside world gets too stimulating.  

We have a Beco Butterfly II 

and a Sweet Pea Ring Sling

John only uses the BB2.  It is considered a 'soft, structured carrier'.  
It has buckles in the back to secure and distribute weight.  

It is great because it is totally hands free, very comfortable and very easy for Paisley to fall asleep in. 

Now that paisley is older, I prefer the ring sling.  Paisley loves to be in a 'hip carry' so that she can look around easily.
(I usually tuck the tail around the rings to make them a bit more 'baby safe')

The ring sling had quite a learning curve.  It really wasn't useful (for us, anyway) until about 2-3 months when I stopped freaking out about head support.  

The ring sling is also hands-free, but your shoulder under the rings is a bit restricted from reaching up high.  This also can get uncomfortable after a few hours because it is not quite as equally balanced as the BB2.  

For the first 3-4 months of Paisley's life, she took about 50% of her naps in the BB2.  Thats a lot of hours.  It was also the answer when she got fussy and we couldn't figure out how to fix it.  

There are lots of good carriers out there.  There are also bad carriers.  Try to avoid anything where baby faces forwards or is 'crotch-dangling'.  Ideally, baby's knees should be higher than her bum.  Would you rather sit in a rock climbing harness or a hammock?  There is a wide price range for carriers.  My ring sling was gently used for $25 and the BB2 was around $130.  For the number of hours that we have used the BB2 so far, it has been well worth it.  

I would say that a good carrier is the single most important baby gear that we have!   

Do your research and find something that will work well for both baby and mama!  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Birth story background, part 2

Continuing from the last post, here is why we did not want a hospital birth.  This post was also written on my old blog when I was about 37 weeks pregnant.  

John and I started this journey in a traditional OB practice with a midwife.  I really wanted a midwife to deliver us, as I felt that was the best option for finding someone who would work with us towards having a natural, unmedicated childbirth.  John really wanted to deliver at a hospital as he felt that was the safest place to be.  So, a midwife practicing in a group of OBs seemed like a great compromise.  As time went by, we were educating ourselves through the internet as well as our birth class about typical procedures that are performed at the hospital for mom as well as baby.  I began to form my birth plan and we would occasionally bring it to our prenatal visit to discuss with our midwife.  My birth plan began to look like a novel.  I had it in bullet points and made the font smaller to fit everything on one page.  I was asking a lot of questions of our midwife and trying to get a feel for what was standard procedure at the hospital, and then including those details in my birth plan if they differed from my desires.  Unfortunately, our midwife raised several red flags with the way she answered a number of our questions.  We really felt like she was yielding to protocol, which is understandable as she works in a network of OBs and delivers at a large hospital.  We can't blame her for following procedure, but we were still uneasy about some of her answers to our questions.   

 There were quite a few topics that we would need to advocate for while in labor and delivery.  However, in a hospital setting, many of the things we were requesting were not the standard procedure.  John and I started worrying about how we would manage to enforce our birth plan.  I, clearly, couldn't be an advocate for myself during labor.  John was going to be very busy staying connected to me and supporting me.  He is totally capable of being my advocate and reminding the nursing staff of decisions we had made.  However, we were unsure that John wanted to take on that role at the expense of being less connected to me emotionally during the labor and birth.  John's primary role is to be my support partner and coach.  

We decided that we needed to go on a tour of the hospital to fully make up our minds.  We went to the hospital with the hope that we would be reassured by the staff and environment that all of this was possible.  We were looking forward to the tour and had very open, hopeful expectations.  

Unfortunately, we were disappointed.  The tour had about 20 couples signed up.  The nursing staff had a very rude and condescending attitude about natural birth.  She rolled her eyes and laughed when she described that they do have a jacuzzi tub for "anyone who wants to attempt this without any pain medication".  There were several other comments made about natural, unmedicated childbirth that made John and I exchange knowing looks.  The nurse showed us the 'newborn procedure station' and I asked if it was possible for them to do the procedures while baby was being held by mom.  She fumbled around for a moment, then answered that "that would be a decision you could make, but we can't make any promises".  She acted like me wanting to make a decision was out of the ordinary and not welcome. This was the clincher for me.  The most important aspect of this process to me is that John and I are in charge of our birth.  We don't need someone to tell us how they will be doing things.  We are capable of birthing our baby.  In the case of an emergency, of course, we would need someone directing decisions.  But that is a pretty unlikely event.  The last straw for John was this little gem; the hospital puts a tracking anklet on each baby.  The anklet locks any door that you get close to and the whole hospital locks down should the anklet be removed without a key.  The problem John and I have with this is that the hospital requires a 2 night stay, which is ridiculous.  With a natural, unmedicated birth there is no reason I shouldn't be able to go home within a few hours.  Also, we are choosing to opt out of several unnecessary newborn procedures and we are afraid that we will get push-back on that, which is pretty scary if the hospital is in control of your baby.  

So, in the end, John and I couldn't get out of the hospital fast enough.  We spent the whole drive home discussing what we did want.  It was pretty interesting that he and I were totally on the same page after the tour.  We didn't have to say a word to each other to know that this wasn't right for us.  Honestly, it was a relief to be so certain about something.  We knew a hospital birth just wasn't for us.  I know that many people have successful natural childbirth experiences in hospitals.  I also know that it just isn't for us.  Every parent makes the right choices for their own situation.  We are thrilled with our decision and finally feel confident with our care provider.

Overall, we both agree that a hospital is a great place to be in the case of an emergency.  However, birth is not an emergency.  Our baby ALREADY has all of the immunity she needs to the things in our home.  Why would we take her to a hospital, filled with sick people, and risk exposing her to illness?  Why would I want to hang out in the hospital, 'just in case' when that is the place to go if you are in a 'worst case scenario' situation?  Doesn't it just feel like we would be setting ourselves up for unnecessary interventions?  

Birth is normal.  I am confident in my body's ability to birth a baby.  I firmly believe that our bodies have a natural system of pain relief that allows you to gradually handle the pain of birthing.  I also firmly believe that our bodies will not destroy or damage themselves during the birth process.  If either of these statements were false, how would we have survived as a species?  Hospital birthing is only 2-3 generations old.  Were the generations before that doing something wrong?

Hospitals are great for emergencies.  In the event that our birth turns into an emergency, we will not hesitate to transfer and receive the best emergency care available. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Birth story background, part 1

I already shared our birth story here, but I feel that explaining HOW we came to make our decision is equally as important as sharing the story itself.  

So, here is the story of what John and I wanted and how we came to that decision.  This post was written when I was about 37 weeks pregnant with Paisley.  

I am enormously confident in my ability to have a baby.  My body is designed for this.  I am mentally prepared for the stages of labor.  I understand the process.  I have had over 36 hours of led classes preparing me for this event.  I have done countless hours of research on the subject.  I have the most incredible and supportive husband/coach.  I know I can do this and I am not interested in interventions or in my labor being managed by an OB team and various nurses.  I want my birth to be passively managed.  I basically want to be able to go through this process with John and I working together in this experience of labor and birth.  We do need someone who knows what normal is and what an emergency looks like.  We need to trust that person's ability to decide when we need to transfer to the hospital.  

Which is why we have selected the midwife we have to attend our home birth.  Many people have the same reaction when they think of a home birth.  They assume it is unsafe.  I have several articles to introduce the topic herehere and here.  

The midwife we have chosen is trained by the Ancient Art Midwifery Institute as well as serving as an apprentice, has attended over 200 births, and has an 8% hospital transfer rate (including non-emergency transfers from moms who change their minds mid-labor).  There is another midwife who lives 1 mile from us who has attended 1400 births over the last 30 years.  We feel very safe with our choice of care provider.  The reason we chose the midwife we did, even though she has attended fewer births than our second choice midwife, is because of the connection and comfort we felt with her.  If we were picking a surgeon to operate on us, we would pick the most experienced doctor, anyone would.  But, we are not picking someone who is going to get us through a life threatening process.  We are picking someone who can help us navigate a natural birth and also knows what is normal and what is not.  As long as she can recognize when something stops being normal, we will transfer to a hospital and trust the experts to take over our medical care.  Most likely, that will not happen.  We do not need a medical expert, we need a normal birth expert.  That is just what midwives are trained to know.  Normal.  

I am so happy with this decision and so excited for our birth!  John was hesitant at the beginning of our pregnancy when I mentioned having a home birth.  After months of research and education, he has made a complete 180 and fully supports home birth as the best option for our low risk pregnancy and birth.  John is not someone who believes everything he hears.  He in an engineer and likes his facts.  For him to have made such a massive shift really solidifies in my mind that this is the right decision.

So, what DO we want?  A normal birth in a setting where we will feel comfortable, have access to all of our things, have access to foods and drinks we like and are accustomed to.  A relaxed birth with a care provider who understands and  respects our choices, decisions, and ability to birth our baby.  A healthy, happy baby, mama, and papa!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Paisley's Home Birth Story

On Wednesday, March 9th around 8pm I started having contractions.  Almost immediately, they were 4 minutes apart and very intense.  This was the only time that I was aware of the clock.  I had requested to John and Brenda that I did not want to know anything about the time as I did not want to get discouraged if things were taking 'too long'.  I had had several bouts of preparatory ("false") labor in the preceding weeks, which had really prepared my body and allowed me to skip right ahead to true/hardcore labor when things actually got going.  John went around the house, cleaning and getting things ready while I walked around in my bathrobe and swayed my hips with each contraction.  By 11pm, I know it was really the real thing and had John call Brenda to give her a 'heads up'.  We continued laboring for several more hours.  Brenda suggested that we get some rest and lie down.  However, for me, lying down was excruciating.  It felt like the pressure of the bed on my belly was blocking the release of the pain.  Being upright was my only option.  My contractions got more intense and were coming one on top of the other.  I would have 3-4 right in a row with barely a breath in between, then a 4 minute break.  It was very intense.  John was right there with me the whole time.  As a contraction would start he would get down on his knees in front of me and I would lean forward and wrap my arms around his neck for support during the contraction.  

At 4am John called Brenda back and told her it was time for her to come.  I remember hearing him tell her that I was asking for help.  I also remember that his voice sounded urgent, almost tense.  I knew I couldn't do this alone anymore.  I was ready for guidance.  Brenda arrived around 5am.  I was in the shower when she arrived and when I got out and dried off, I realized that she was sitting on the floor in our bedroom.  John later told me that the way she entered was very interesting.  She sat in the hallway and listened to me while I was vocalizing with low tones in the shower.  She then moved into the room and continued observing.  Once I knew she was there, she moved into the bathroom and sat on the floor in there.  It was a very gentle way for her to make her presence known.  I really appreciated that.  

By the time Brenda arrived, my contractions were stronger and my uterus was staying tight even during my 4 minute breaks and my thighs were shaking.  This was the hardest part for me as I could not physically relax and I didn't feel like I was getting a break.  Eventually, I started thinking about pushing.  I didn’t have a real urge, but the thought was there.  It was more like my body was doing Kegel squeezes.  Actual pushing started happening with a few of the contractions, but not all at once.  At one point, I gave myself and internal exam and could feel the bag of waters.  That was incredible because it made the progress much more apparent and tangible.   My water broke while I was sitting on the toilet just 2 hours before the birth.  After my water broke, things sped up considerably and every contraction demanded that I push.  This was so totally involuntary and got to be pretty overwhelming.  I did not feel in control of my body at all.  Pushing is a feeling I just can’t describle.  It is a whole body effort and it truly connects you to the core of the earth.   At this time, the most important thing to me was knowing that John was right there.  All of the work we had done together became so important.  I knew that whatever I needed was right there with him.  He and Brenda sat on the floor near me and gave me encouragement and support while I pushed.  

Eventually, I could reach inside myself and feel her head.  I was afraid I felt her umbilical cord by her head and requested that Brenda do an internal exam.  She felt and assured me that I was just feeling my own tissues and Paisley's squished up scalp.  This was the only 'intervention' of our birth.  It was quite empowering to be able to lead my own birth and to be the one making decisions about interventions like internal exams.  Shortly after I felt the head in my birth canal, I started feeling like my pelvis was widening- like I couldn’t close my legs.  Interestingly, moving through my birth canal was not painful.  The pain was completely from the contractions of my uterus and abdomen.  

An hour and a half after my water broke, our baby began to crown.  I had moved from the bathroom to our bed and I was on my hands and knees, arms propped up with pillows.  Crowning was very painful and lasted about 30 minutes.  I would feel the contraction start, then about two breaths later I would begin to push.  I was pushing so hard and couldn’t believe I had that much strength.  After each contraction, I could feel her move back inside a little.  With each contraction, she came further out, but also slid back in a little.  The strangest part was feeling my tailbone raise and lower as she passed by.  With each contraction, I just KNEW the next one had to be last one!  This process started to be discouraging and my abdomen was getting sore from the contractions and pushing.  I was so thankful when Brenda suggested that I get up off my elbows and brought my back more level, rather than being in a ‘downward dog’ position.  I also made a conscious effort to sort of ‘hold on’ to each contraction after it ended so that she didn’t slip back inside. I made a huge effort to breathe through the end of the contractions even though my body really wanted to keep pushing.  Eventually, I pushed and felt her come out further than before and then I gathered myself mentally and pushed again, she came out a little more, then I pushed again even though the contraction was over, and her head was born!  I could feel her rotate as she progressed and came out.  I needed to wait for the next contraction to push out her body.  While I was waiting, I heard our baby cry out and I was suddenly so shocked!  The gravity of the situation hit me full force. THAT was why we were doing this!  With the next contraction, I pushed her shoulders out and she rushed out with the rest of the amniotic fluid.   There are no words to describe the split second shift from immense pressure, pain, and difficulty to the feeling of relief and awe as she was born.  After her body was born, I stood up on my knees and John handed our baby to me through my legs so that I could hold her.  I laid back into John’s lap and just looked in amazement at our daughter.  Her cord was a little short, so she laid on my belly as I passed the placenta so that she could reach to nurse.  The placenta passed without trouble in less than 15 minutes.  Paisley latched on and nursed right away.  We cut the cord about an hour after she and our placenta were born.  She weighed 8 pounds and 6 ounces and came out with a full head of jet black hair.  

Our birth was absolutely incredible.  It went exactly how we would have imagined in the best case scenario.  I am so thrilled that our birth was free of interventions and free of complications for both  myself and Paisley!  I am so happy with how perfectly everything went and so thankful for how respected and protected I felt by the people I had invited into my birth experience.  Brenda showed an incredible calming energy and really made me feel safe.  John’s support was something I can’t describe in words.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who are we?

This is me:

This is him:

We got married:

And had one of these:

We also have one of these:

 We used to have one of these: