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Friday, March 14, 2014

Natural Childbirth Should Be Normal... Unfortunately, It's Not.

Natural childbirth should be normal... unfortunately, it's not. A majority of births are treated with interventions, medical protocol and procedures that would best be used in abnormal situations. And natural births rarely occur unless the mother - in addition to being low-risk - has also gone out of her way to seek out/ pay for/ demand one, despite the systematic push-back for a medicated birth.

Yes, I am a natural childbirth advocate. And I won't apologize for it. There are women who have delivered in hospitals who might believe that I am criticizing their choices and their deliveries, while revering my own deliveries in a birth center, but this could not be any further from the truth. Because I have cried tears of heartbreak for every friend who has admitted feeling unsure about the outcome of their deliveries, and guilty that they even feel that way, since after all, the only justifiable end goal is a "healthy" baby and mama, and that's what they got. Because I know they deserve more, even if they don't feel like they do. Because every woman deserves what I had (and treasure) - a shot at a natural childbirth.

Now many people get caught up in the idea of what they think natural childbirth is. A martyr attempting a risky at home delivery to put her ideals above the safety of her child? Possibly just a disillusioned woman who for some unknown reason would rather experience the pain than to have a relaxing stress-free birth. That is not what I advocate for. THIS is what I was so blessed to experience with my own deliveries. THIS is what I am fighting for. THIS is how I define natural childbirth.

I define natural childbirth as arming mom with the knowledge, giving her the support, and providing her with a comfortable setting and tools so that her labor progresses naturally, in as much comfort as possible.

I define it as normal birth... NOT medically induced and treated birth.

I define it as accepting the intensity and discomfort of labor knowing that in turn the mother often gains empowerment and confidence in her ability to deliver her baby... NOT assuming that a mother will be unable to handle the pain, setting her up to be scared and anxiously accepting of pain medication.

I define it as letting the woman find positions and use techniques that best relieve her labor pains and allowing her to deliver in the position that feels most comfortable, pushing when the contractions guide her body to do so... NOT forcing her into a bed to labor, into stirrups to deliver, and pushing on the doctor's count because it is easier for the provider to monitor and deliver.

I define it as trusting a mother's body to do what it was designed to do... NOT leaving it up to a healthcare provider who acts under the assumption that the mother's body is ill-equipped to naturally deliver a baby and inflicts intervention upon intervention while their own system creates a self-fulfilled prophecy.

I define it as a mother centered process, where she is provided the options and allowed to make decisions about her body and her baby... NOT a provider and facility centered process, where the mother is simply informed of what they are going to do based on what is most efficient, convenient or legally safe for them and their practices.

I define it as emphasis not only on the outcome (getting the baby out), but also on the process and aftermath (the condition of the mother, how she feels, how soon baby can be placed on mama to bond, her recovery)...

I define it as midwives and doulas working hand in hand with obstetricians, each specializing in their own art and playing equally important roles; midwives and doulas supporting the mother in the process of normal labor in the majority of births, and, less commonly, the need for obstetricians specializing in interventions and procedures only when nature fails...

Nature's design can work so beautifully, if only given the chance. But our culture regarding childbirth, and the system that supports it has to change. Pregnancy is a miracle to be nurtured into the birth of a new being - not a cancer to be extracted from the body. Women need to find their voice, and demand to be treated differently; to have a different experience. Only then will natural childbirth become what it once was - normal.

Well Into The New Year

Well into the new year, and my last post covering the last camping trip of the year, and here I am 3 months later talking about the first of the new year! I have been meaning to update for a long time but just never quite got around to it. After my first half marathon (the Coronado Strip Half) and my disappointing time of 2:10 and my hip acting up on the first mile, I was trained and hungry to run another and beat the 2 hour mark. When I heard that Ryan's cousin Nathan and his cousin were running the SD Holiday Half right after Christmas, I signed up right away and got myself to my masseuse and chiropractor to get my hip issues worked out before the next race. I was successful and with my family cheering me on, I finished in 1:58, averaging around an 8.5 min mile most of the way. I'm very proud of my accomplishment, but won't feel complete until I concur a full marathon. I have set my sights on the SD Rock & Roll full marathon in 2015. Timing and location was difficult, as there are not as many full marathons to choose from out there as you would think. And with our busy schedule, there were few options. Since we will be in town for Jared & Kaitlyn's wedding the end of May anyway, the decision sort of fell into my lap. The biggest problem will be training and running at that time of year, as it will be a little bit warmer than my body does best running in.

We spent my cousin Jay's birthday weekend with him and his family in Big Bear again, and should be able to get one more year in before they move to their next station location, Hawaii!!!! Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and there was no snow, but we cant complain seeing as how this entire year is one of the driest on record and we are in the middle of a severe drought...

We have had challenges this season (as always) with the girls and sickness - there have been many terrible colds going around, Abby got croup, and both girls got pink eye the other week, and now Abby had a re-occurrence and gave it to me. Ryan has pretty much been continuously sick this whole season, despite all of us taking cold-remedy vitamin packs, taking probiotics and most recently, me trying kefir.

We have found a way though to get him out and on his mountain bike though. We are trying to fit in a once a week ride, even if its a just a quickie after work. And while I get to work out and run on average 2-3 times a week during my lunch break, I have been trying to fit in a yoga session once a week (which has proved to be more challenging). But all in all, Ryan and I are finding more time for ourselves and carving out time to be both together and also get away to do the things we like to do.

Part of that has been training a neighbor named Aleshia to babysit. She is very young (junior high) and has no experience, but lives in our building under the watchful eye of her mom, who we know and trust, and is eager to learn the trade. So we have been having her come every other week for a hour and a half, while Ryan and I do things around the house. Yesterday was the first time we left them alone. We took Guinness on an extended walk and it was so great just to get that long, thoughtful, uninterrupted adult time in.

All in all the girls are great. Rory is very excited for kindergarten and Diane has done an amazing job prepping her for it socially, and mentally. We had decided to put in her application for Vista Grande, which is the one that is closest to Diane - less than a mile away in fact. The one Aurora would normally be assigned to is year round, and we didn't like that schedule. Also, as the best option for before/after school situation for us likely going to be staying with Diane, it is easiest for her as well. So it looks like we will be able to keep our same work schedules, stick with the one car and be able to carpool. She is also very excited for her surprise birthday. Yup, shes getting a surprise birthday party, and she knows about it. One day out of the blue several months ago she tells me, "Mom, I want a surprise birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese for my birthday." I asked her how that was going to work if it was supposed to be a surprise, and she replied (with an eye roll and exasperated sigh mind you), "Mooooom, I promise I will remember to forget!!!" Well, I thought, even though she knows what she wants, she has no concept of time, or when her birthday actually is; only that it is coming up at some point. So here we go planning a surprise birthday party for her. We have invited all of her friends, and talk openly about the party, and she knows its coming, just not when. I can't wait to see the look on her face when she thinks we are just going into another birthday party and SURPRISE! Its for her!!!

Abby really is coming into her own. She had shown signs of being ready for potty training for quite some time, but we just had not had the time to devote to being at home for multiple days to get started. We had planned on going away for the weekend for Tierra Del Sol, but the girls got pink eye and the only storm of the season was coming in to stay for the whole weekend. Since we were going to be grounded at home anyway, it was the perfect opportunity to finally pull the trigger. We got out the panties, put away the diapers, and went for the gold. She barely needed coercing and since that weekend she has only had a few major accidents, all due to us not being vigilant about asking her every few hours if she needed to go to the bathroom.

This really represents a huge milestone for us with the girls. We are officially out of the baby - and I would say - even the toddler stage. Both girls out of diapers, off of sippy cups, both can feed themselves, dress themselves (although Abby still struggles, the desire is there), even every other bath I let them clean themselves. We have invested a huge amount of energy and time into training the girls to do things in a certain way, and respect the rules of the house (family dinner time, even if you aren't hungry, hanging up your sweater when you get in the house, putting your dirty clothes in the laundry basket when you take them off, busing your own dishes to the sink, picking up your toys). While it is so tempting to just take the few seconds to do it yourself, the alternative being a 5 minute fight to stop the girls what they are doing, come over, and complete the task with a grumpy attitude, we are seeing the payout, as they girls are doing many of these things automatically now without being asked, and when they are reminded, they do so without gripping (too much). Rory even takes initiative and does things that she sees me routinely do on her own when she has the opportunity. It's hard to explain to her when some of them should better be left to an adult to do, but she sure gets an A for effort!!! Abby is still a little way off from all that, but hey, she is in fact 2 whole years younger.