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And baby makes 4

This is our family a little over two years ago the morning after Ivy was born.  Right away, when I look at this picture, I notice my swollen, red face, Deladis’s disheveled hair (Aunt Leah hadn’t had a baby yet, and they were up all night.), and my peacefully sleeping, round, new love.  Then, I notice John.  Loving Deladis whose just welcoming her new sister and unsure of what that means, he looks as tired as I do.  Puffy under his eyes, and messy hair.  He’s been up with me for almost two days. 

Our journey to Ivy’s birth began on April 26th at 5pm when my water broke ceremoniously as we waited for our dinner at Karma Cafe in Louisville, Kentucky.  It was like something out of the movies.  But, he was calm and unafraid, not embarrassed by a major life event beginning in such a public place.  He trusted my body and birth as much as I did and that meant the world to me.  He called our midwife to tell her what had happened, with nothing but confidence in his voice.  He had been with me for every prenatal appointment.  He had went with me through twelve weeks of Bradley childbirth classes and paid for them.  John had also paid for me to have a doula and a midwife out of pocket.  We can’t afford insurance for the two of us.  He had dedicated himself to me and this baby as he had during every other major moment in our lives since we were teenagers.

The journey finally came to an end at 2:12am on April 28th when our 11 pound baby girl greeted us with her cries and eagerness to nurse.  During this time, we had went to the grocery, ate our boxed food from the restaurant, waited through a sleepless night,  invited women into our home for sagely advice and help, visited the chiropractor, worked on our van that decided to break down on the way home, took many walks, stopped in the middle of busy downtown Louisville for me to get through contractions on the way to the hospital, took many trips to the bathroom, moaned and carried on, made some hard decisions, loved and enjoyed our friends, and ultimately brought forth our baby in safety and love.  I would have been so alone without John.  Never once did he question me through that process.  Never once.  In fact, at times when I thought it was no more, he assured me that there was lots more we could do. 

I think of those two days quite a bit.  How they would have been different without my husband – the daddy – by my side.  I’m forever grateful that I found him so early in my life.  We’ve grown up together and I think with that comes an understanding of one another that goes beyond adult relationship.  We know where we have been first hand.  He trusts me.  I trust him.  As I watch him with our girls – daddy’s girls, I am filled with joy.  Being a daddy’s girl myself, I know how crucial a daddy’s love can be in making everything right in the world.  I thank him for that.  We were married six years before the first was born, and he fell into the role without a blink.  John is a real good daddy.

Adding my new work to our daily schedule is already changing things up quite a bit.  Not in a bad way though.  I feel myself relaxing about things that worried me so much before, things that I took way to seriously.  Sure, it has only been two days since the end of my training workshop and I am still riding that wave of pure joy, but the relaxation is very real.

I don’t know why.  I suspect it is because I am finally paying attention to where my heart has been leading me for years.  Not just the childbirth education, but actually listening to that part of me that has said, you’d really enjoy _____.  Listening to that part of me instead of making decisions based on some “dream” idea of what our family life should look like, what makes a great parent, or how a grown woman can give to her community and children.  What makes one a productive, satisfied individual?  It definitely isn’t trying to adhere to someone else’s prescription of that idea.  So far, I’m finding that giving in and listening to what your heart says, doing the leg work for yourself, is much more satisfying.  No, it’s not going to look anything like what other people have found satisfying.  We are all gifted differently.  We are all unique, so it shouldn’t.

Yes, we may get ideas from one another.  Of course, if something speaks to us, but is challenging, we should give it our best effort and time to see if it is something that is beneficial for us.  But, if we are attempting something for our benefit and thus that of our family, and it is doing nothing but bringing discontentment, it is probably not a fit.  There can be great satisfaction in a challenge and hard work, so I am learning to look for that satisfaction.  For example, doing an hour of yoga everyday is a huge challenge.  Finding the time for it in my day, trying to relax despite the bustle around me, and listening for that still small voice is anything but easy.  Yet, while practicing, I feel satisfied.  I feel like I have done something important, and in turn I feel happy for it.  That is how you know that an idea is a good one.  The work it takes isn’t always easy, but you continually have the feeling that it is right.

This morning, Deladis started drawing bodies on her figures and animals.  Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer suggests that this is one of the first signs for academic readiness.  However, for most children this won’t occur until around age 6 or 7.  I watched Deladis’ glee as she showed her new accomplishment to her artist daddy, who in turn looks at me and says that his daughter is a genius. 🙂  I smile and think that it’s cute that Daddy gives such esteem to his little one.  Then, Deladis looks at me and says, “This little girl cat is beautiful and this boy one is handsome.”  Her mommy who thinks in words couldn’t help but be amazed and think maybe her daddy is really onto something.  Does it mean she is ready for academics?  I’m doubtful.  Do I ignore this sign?  Absolutely not.  The recommendation for Waldorf education is no formal academics until age 6 or 7.  Is that a strict rule to be adhered to in homeschool families?  I don’t think so.  I think it is something to deeply consider.  I’m going to spend many weeks, perhaps months watching her cues… seeing where she leads me, and listening to my heart.

Our lives are changing.  The road for me has been rocky, but some lessons are hard learned and should be.  I’m glad for it.  I’m really glad.

Please bear with me as I try to figure out what place this blog will have in my new schedule.  I am going to try to still post regularly, but I am almost certain that things will change here a little bit as I am devoting time to different things.  I hope you will continue to check back in and share your thoughts here.

Just wanted to take a minute and tell everyone I am home with a certificate for my training and so many new ideas that I can’t wait to share with my community. It was most definitely a time of renewal, growth, and learning for me and I am crazy excited about it.

I must tell you too what Deladis said at the end of the second night when I got back to where we were staying. She said “Mommy, I’m ready to go home.” I said, “Really? We’ll be leaving tomorrow.” She responded, “Mommy, I love how you cook.” 🙂 I couldn’t help but smile. Those are cherished moments when you realize that despite how it feels sometimes, what you take the time to do for your children is important and they appreciate it. 🙂 How sweet!

Later this afternoon, I will be making the long journey into the city.  Friday is the first day of the workshop that will begin my formal training to become a certified childbirth educator.  As I have mentioned before, the training is through Lamaze and I will eventually receive certification from Lamaze International when I complete the requirements.  I am so excited I can hardly contain myself.

Knowing my perception of myself ten years ago, I would have been very amused if someone had suggested to me that my life would take this path.  I was in my early twenties and while I had just recently witnessed the natural birth of my first nephew and acted as a birth coach for my sister, I had no plans to give birth myself.  I thought giving birth to be a miracle and it absolutely made me embrace my womanhood in a way I never had prior to witnessing the glorious capacity of a woman’s body.  I was sure though, that while other women were enjoying pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, that there were other plans for my life.  Not that I thought those plans more dignified at all, but more that I felt like life had not prepared me to fulfill that role in another’s life.  I felt like I was doing the child who I would birth a favor by choosing to remain childless.

I look back on my life at this juncture, and it is obvious to me my preparation through everything from my birth order, life experiences, and educational choices for motherhood and teaching (or should I say sharing my experiences with others and guiding the search for information).  I was the first born of my mother’s children and I tortured my baby sister day after day with school play.  It was either that or her torture me with trying to copy and become a part of my independent play. 😉  I majored in English with a minor in Creative Writing in college, only to accept a job as a Language Arts teacher in the public school system.  I went on to receive a Master’s in Teaching.  It was like I had forgotten how I told my family that I wouldn’t be a teacher when they had suggested it to me so many times.  I was going to be a writer.  Then, I experienced birth through my sister, and almost five years later John and I desired to make a family.  It was sudden, and in spite of all the plans to the contrary.

There was the planning for my birth – the dreaming.  Then, there was the experience.  I didn’t embrace what happened to me and my baby girl in any way for the longest time.  It wasn’t suppose to have happened that way.  Not to me.  I didn’t understand that it was another leg of my journey.  Ivy’s birth gave me a little more understanding, and yet I still didn’t accept what my heart was asking me to do.  I felt like everything I had experienced and studied about would eventually bring a correction of what happened to me.  It wasn’t about that at all.  Healing isn’t always a reversal of a problem, and I would argue that most often it is not, but it is a renewal of our perception of that problem.  That self that I thought I was, wasn’t me at all.  It was an ego denying my whole self peace.  I am complete just as I am.

So, now I have this awesome opportunity to put myself to use to a cause greater than I could have ever imagined for myself.  A cause that is much greater than I am.  It is not something I could ever take on of my own accord or understanding, but it is a movement of a collective body of women and men, working, in the best of times, as one force.  To help other women learn about their bodies, enjoy their pregnancies, plan their informed births, and process the experience is a huge undertaking, but it is one that I love.  It was done for me, and I am so thankful to those women.  Not only will I have the opportunity to be an active part of a birth community, but I will be helping women in my mountains.  The birth tradition in these hills is so rich and beautiful as much as it is hard to grasp at times.  I think of the courage of those women and the trust that they put into the natural course of life.  I want to help women from whatever place they come from in their journey to motherhood and through whatever their plans may be, help them to understand what is happening, to trust their body, and help them to feel comfortable and safe in the choices they make for themselves and their babies.

I’m thankful that I am finally able to listen to my heart.  It is much easier than trying to rationalize contrary choices.  I’m thankful for this opportunity.  I’m able to embrace what happened to me as an experience in a longer journey that has a larger purpose than a few events in my life.  Not that those experiences were easy ones, but more that they helped me to grow as a person.  No, it wasn’t a part of my planning, but it chose me, and I’m so glad.

I think I have already chosen a name for my services and a tag line.  It may change, but for now I like it. 🙂  I will be starting a new blog upon my return under that title.  I will blog about my experiences in formal training and the topics I am studying or finding interesting in the world of childbirth.  I won’t blog about anyone (privacy is my utmost priority), but it will be more informational in tone and a companion to my eventual personal website for my services.  Birth is a very personal topic and because of the many varied experiences can seem almost mythical.  Learning about the ideas surrounding birth and the issues involved is a great way to make it seem less so, but no less miraculous. 🙂

I fell in love with childbirth the first time I witnessed it with my own eyes.  I had seen kittens and puppies be born before and thought it a glorious thing, but when I helped my sister bring my nephew into the world on that warm summer day in 2000, I knew I had witnessed a miracle.  I knew I had watched a rite of passage like none other possible in life, and while I didn’t think at that time I would be a mother, I was glad to be a woman.

When I prepared for my own daughter’s birth I did everything I thought I should do.  I did prenatal yoga and walked.  I ate a healthful diet and kept my weight gain to a minimum.  I took my vitamins.  I chose a practice with all women (7 of them) obstetricians and never missed an appointment.  I attended every session of the childbirth classes held at the hospital.  I wrote a birth plan that outlined the process that I hoped would be my natural vaginal birth and gave it to the doctors.  I did everything I knew to do to insure that I would experience birth in the most natural form.  The way I felt nature/God intended in most cases.

Then, on the day I turned 38 weeks I was given my 7th ultrasound in my pregnancy to check on the size of my baby.  They estimated her to be upwards of ten pounds.  The doctor I saw that day said that if I had any hope of giving birth vaginally I would need to go in that night to be induced.  I agreed because I wanted a vaginal birth.  I called my family and packed my bags.  We got to the hospital and as soon as the doctor on call (different from the doctor who recommended the induction) read my chart she ordered another ultrasound.  She then explained to us that she believed that my baby being upwards of ten pounds was too large to risk a vaginal birth.  She gave us a list of possible complications if we did indeed choose to attempt a vaginal birth – shoulder dystocia, cerebral palsy, brain damage, death.  The doctor left the room for us to make our decision.  I looked at my husband and sister in uncontrollable tears.  We all thought that there was only one thing to do.  I consented to have a surgical birth.

My daughter was born 8 pounds and 13 ounces 20.5 inches long.  I immediately felt like I had been played.  Then, as complications arose for the both of us from the surgery, including a five night hospital stay, I knew in my heart that I had made the wrong choice.  I now know that surgery was unnecessary and have had it most likely confirmed so by another obstetrician.  At this point, I became passionate about childbirth, and have since set out to educate myself and anyone that was looking for answers on the topic.

While cesarean section is a blessing for many mothers and babies, as it was in the case of my second birth, when it is necessary because of a medical complication, the practice in this country is obviously being abused putting in danger mothers and their babies.

In the United States the cesarean rate is 31.8%.  The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that to remain within a healthy range no country should exceed 10-15%.  That means that the US has doubled that recommendation.  It has increased 48% since 1996.  Why?

There are many speculations as to why, however there are some things we can be sure of, the first being elective cesarean surgery.  With rumors of celebrities scheduling their surgical births, women wanting to plan ahead to avoid certain days and times to give birth, and others misinformed and afraid of a vaginal delivery, it has become possible for many women to just choose surgery.  I believe convenience for the obstetrician plays into this as well.  They don’t have to be on call or wait on a long labor.  Not only does this seem more convenient for some, but it is also more money in the pockets of the doctors and hospitals.

The other large reason is malpractice lawsuits and insurance companies.  Doctors fear being sued, which I think might play a part in many of the cases of recommended c-sections for a large baby.

Then, there is the cascade of medical interventions most often starting with an induction and leading to a c-section.  A labor brought on by chemical induction is much more intense than regular labor brought on by natural hormones released from both the mother and baby.  This often leads to an epidural and the mother growing tired sooner.  It is also more likely to cause a baby to go into distress.  A natural labor for a first time mother can easily last twelve hours or longer and be completely safe.  Induction brings on hard contractions much sooner.  It is not as gradual a process as natural labor.

Why do we consent to these things?  Some of you may even be wondering why I’m concerned at all with any of this.  It is because we are misinformed and left in the dark by the health care practitioners we are trusting to deliver us safely through our pregnancies and birthing experiences.  It is because for me ignorance was not bliss and has had lasting health complications for both myself and Deladis.  I wish I had known to know better.  I wish what I know now was common information and not something you have to search for.  I wish all women had the means to inform themselves and were respected by their practitioners.

So, you have the right to know this (whatever your choice is)…

1. A c-section is a major abdominal surgery.

2. C-section surgery poses risks to the mother including infection and hemorrhage among others that are 2 to 4 times more than a vaginal birth.

3. C-section surgery can delay mother and infant bonding due to post-op regulations in the hospital and the delay of natural bonding hormones.

4. Babies born via c-section are more likely to have allergies and have issues breathing at birth.  A c-section also runs the risk of babies being cut by a scalpel during surgery.

5. The “big baby” reason is a myth.  Ultrasounds are notoriously wrong the later you are in your pregnancy at determining the size of your baby.  Unless you have had the rickets or your pelvis is knowingly deformed in some way, there is no reason to think that your pelvis would not accommodate the size of your baby.

6. You have the right to refuse cesarean surgery or any other medical intervention you feel is unnecessary.  (Barring any medical emergency, this is your safest option).

7. You have the right to be fully informed of all the pros and cons of any medical intervention before making your decision.

8. You are more likely to experience a c-section if you have private insurance and private doctor.

9. If you become uncomfortable with you health care provider, you have the right to change.  (Check with your private insurance companies as to their date requirements, but in most cases arrangements can be made.)  You also have the right to a second opinion.

10. Homebirth with a midwife is available in most states and is the safest option of vaginal birth.  Midwives generally have better birth outcomes than obstetricians who are trained to look for an emergency not normal vaginal birth.

11. VBAC is safer than repeat c-section.

Please take the time to inform yourself.  Start by visiting some of the links provided in this article and watching this short film.  Then, I recommend you watch Ricki Lake’s, The Business of Being Born.  If you are then inspired to learn more, please feel free to email me and I can recommend more websites and books to help you avoid or prepare for your necessary c-section.  You have been given a glorious gift of pregnancy and the opportunity to give birth.  Take it into your hands.  Make it a peaceful place for you no matter than manner of delivery.

It takes us awhile to recover from Christmas.  In two days, we have Christmas festivities with four families.  This week we are traveling to South Carolina (where I am writing this) and later to Cincinnati to see more family.  The two days we’ve gotten to spend at home have been spent in rest and trying to find places for the new toys.  We gave a box of toys the week before Christmas to my nephew to help us with that task.

I have never been an organizer of things.  I organize myself and I have places for things that I care about in my home, but when it comes to having things look neat and tidy – I fail miserably.  Our house is clean where it counts.  The toilet, bathtub, dishes washed, and clothes washed, but neat and tidy it is most definitely not.  I have tried before.  I was fairly successful, but with so little room it has been hard to really make a difference.  Not being gifted with the talent of housekeeping has made it hard to maintain. 

John recently told me to let go of the standard I am trying to achieve.  In ten years of marriage, we’ve not had a neat home, even before kids.  It’s true.  Clean, but not neat.  With our various collections and our love for the written word, music, and art, comes a lot of things to be kept in our small cabin.  I am not doing a good job of managing it all.

Then, I am trying to find an organization that will work with me and my pursuit of becoming a certified childbirth educator.  There are none here to train under or observe.  Most organizations have at least that requirement.  Travel isn’t possible for me without making huge,expensive arrangements.  I also have to keep in mind the reputation of the certifying organization and the experience of others.  It is proving difficult, but I’m pushing onward.  I hope that by the time I finish my prenatal yoga training in April, that I can start offering my services to the women in our area. 

There is a lot of organizing to do.  We have been taking time off of our homeschooling.  I have been in deep spiritual study, and I am missing my yoga quite a bit.  I love seeing family and spending time in places away from home, but not being able to do my daily yoga is hard.  It is at those times when you can really tell what such a practice does for you.

I hope to be able to post more starting next week.  In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions on home organization or childbirth educator certification for such a rural mama, I’d love to read them.  Please comment.  I’m wishing you all a great New Year and some restful fun!

I’ve been threatening to announce something for a week or two now.  It’s time.  I’ve been struggling to come to terms with what I feel like are big failures in my life as a mama and homemaker.  I can’t keep my house straight or organized.  I’m tired and feel disconnected more than I would like to.  The fact is that I think I am getting burned out.  Without many breaks to be had, and with basically no social life aside from taking my girls to see their grandparents, I’m suffering to find balance.  I’m looking for an outlet.  I have to have one in order to do my job at home to the best of my ability.

A few week’s ago, I thought God had given me a very blunt answer to my prayers about what my life is supposed to be.  I thought the answer was that I was being selfish and I needed to realize that I chose life as a mother and wife and that being home, homeschooling, and homemaking – devoting my life solely to my children and husband was where I belonged and where my purpose lies.  I was not to add another activity, but focus on fixing my shortcomings at home, and find all the happiness I need in being given that blessing.

The answer that I had thought I had gotten was through something that I thought was happening to me.  Thought.  It boogers us up sometimes.  What I thought was happening was not, and I was disappointed.  Disappointed not because I had hoped or planned for this event to happen, but because I thought I was getting a straight answer and my worry and searching was over.  I had resolved myself to simply being what I am now and had vowed to make it work.  Now, I was back to square one.

Then, after a few days of mulling it over I realized what had actually happened was an open door.  It was a door that when stepped through allowed for me to make my life new.  It allowed me to acknowledge that my feelings of aloneness and churning were legitimate, and because they are I don’t have to try to rid myself of them by pretending there is something wrong with me.  Instead, I can do something about them.  That is what I have decided to do.

I need to use the talents and passions that God gave me.  I can write.  I am passionate about safe childbirth and breastfeeding.  I am in love with yoga.  Books make me happy.  I also need to make an effort to connect with others and get some time outside of the home.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my life in this holler.  I would live nowhere else, yet there needs to be balance in my life – a chance to breathe and contribute what I can.

I have decided to take a course and become a certified childbirth educator.  I would teach all aspects of birthing, but focus on helping women achieve a normal vaginal birth when possible.  I hope to help promote breastfeeding and natural childbirth.  I am also getting certified for teaching prenatal yoga in the spring.

Along with this, I plan to do more with blogging in the form of a couple of niche blogs that I’ll announce here when I get it all worked out.  I may try my hand at some nonfiction articles and submitting those.  I will also be stepping up finding a publisher for my short story collection and finishing my novel.  I may consider self-publishing.  I received a note from an editor on one of my story rejections this week encouraging me to send more.  Usually rejections are just the form letter, so when you get some real ink from a pen on there, it is promising.

I want to help bring in some income and I want to use my skills.  I want to have something to do that will relieve me a little from time to time.  I don’t know how I am going to work it around our homeschool schedule, or how I will manage childcare if I need it.  I’m taking the plunge without that being set in stone.  I have to.  For my sake and for my girls.  I simply feel like I was designed that way.

We are social beings – even the most introverted of us.  I read an article in the November/December issue of Mothering Magazine by Heather Hall about her family building a house where they lived along with her parents and her husband’s mother.  I have been looking into the history in women’s lives, and I also saw this article on the Mothering website.  The nuclear family living in separate houses from their elder parents and other family members is a relatively new thing.  Historically, women had a village around them, and we’ve all heard the statement – it takes a village to raise a child.  In other words, they had ready fellowship, an occasional break from their childcare duties, and an outlet.  Mothering where I am now is a very isolated thing.  I don’t think I have to feel guilty by feeling that I need something else to go along with my efforts here.  If I don’t have a village, I have to create a situation where we are all balanced and ready to be all we can be for each other.

As I work out what this will mean for my family, I will write about it.  We are still homesteading, and I am still homeschooling, and will primarily be a stay-at-home mom.  I will just be seeking to do some things on the side.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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