Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wish list

I am getting pretty bummed out about how I don't use cloth diapers anymore.

Although my current fantasy item that I pretend I am saving up for is this stroller, (Santa?? Anyone?? PLEASE???) what I really would do with a couple hundred bucks is buy some nice fluffy soft wonderful cloth diapers for baby Charlie.

I used cloth from fall 2000 with baby Mickey until 2004/early 2005 when Casey outgrew what we had, and I was pretty wiped out being pregnant with Charlie and babysitting and homeschooling somehow while puking my guts out (even took myself to the good old hospital at 9 weeks for the always fun hyperemesis for a night of IV fluids and phenergan) I just dropped out of the cloth-diapering-a-toddler realm and never got back full time. In a lifestlye where things like hearing the wrong commercials or smelling chapsticks sent me running to vomit my eyes out, I wasn't about to haul pails of poop and pee out to the laundry room every day...sorry but true.

We had some Fuzzi Bunz for Charlie but they were used, and they were size medium and they only fit him for a few weeks and the previous owner didn't take good care of them and so they weren't absorbent and they smelled funky and I think I ruined their absorbency even further by trying so many methods of deodorizing them :(

But now I miss it and I feel so badly that we have 8 bucks every Friday for new disposables but not 2 or 3 hundred for a decent set of cloth diapes for the dear baby.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mothering in public.

Can I just give a generalised WTF?! to almost everything that is going on in the media lately with all this nursing "in public" stuff? Even articles that I am just now finding the time to stumble across are saying some real asinine stuff: Take this vaguely supportive article I got off of Rixa's blog tonight--what is this weird quote all about?

"Every time the breastfeeding lactivists whip up their shirts to nurse in protest, legions of the less militant roll their eyes, wondering why they can't just let it go, cover up and make nice."

What is the deal, seriously, with all this language? Whip? Protest? Militant?

This just isn't the language of my reality as a breastfeeding woman, a mother, a person. Even in a seemingly neutral and just-the-facts article, there is still this activity--the whipping up of the shirt in militant protest that sounds more like something you'd see at a heavy metal concert in 1984 or perhaps a nudist colony than anything me and my babies ever do or did when we nurse.

So, I am just trying to piece together what is still happening in the media:

The sexual wording.
The aggressive wording.
The utter ignorance of day to day mothering.

If I may take such liberty (since when do I ask, right?) to go off on THEY for a moment;

THEY remove the mother from the baby and the baby from the mother when THEY speak and write this way. This is the same shit that happens with birth and media coverage of birth and popular television imagery of birth. There is no acknowledgment of the mother-baby diad, no understanding what a nursing relationship entails, (just like there is no clue about the song that a mother and baby share during a normal birth).

I wouldn't randomly "whip up my shirt", in "protest" or in anything else. Lactivism isn't about a woman's rights to flash some titty, this isn't about censoring nudity, it is about if your baby becomes in need of some milk, some num-num's, some nursie, some Mee-Mee's, some love, some MAMA--just going on ahead and doing whatever it is that you would do if you weren't at Applebees or wherever. And NOT because you are just trying to prove anything, but just because babies are people and citizens and humans, and of all places to eat, for gawd's sake why not a restaurant???

Lactivism inherently involves a mama and a baby. A baby who wants to nurse. NOW. Not just some chick who is whipping up (up? really? ridiculous...) her shirt at random, or shoving a breast into her baby's face--(if they don't wanna nurse, they wont, trust me, how many new moms especially have tried in vain to get their little one to latch onto an overly engogrged breast only to have them buck away in protest?)---so this whole phraseology is just ignorant.

Its all ignorant.

I don't think is a "man" thing either, because I doubt if there is father or close friend of a nursing mama+baby on this planet who would ever think such weird stuff about breastfeeding. These people just do not get what it is that they are discussing. Clearly.

Every single person involved in these online dramas and this media hype and all the comedians and all the sassy late night show hosts, they just haven't spent one day in the company of a nursing mother and baby. (If they did, they would realize I hope) how off base all of this line of thought really is.

Mamababies are a team. They belong together, and that baby belongs, physically, psychologically, species-appropriately, B-E-L-O-N-G-S attached by the mouth-to-the-breast for much of its day. Its as simple as that. It isn't secret, it isn't shameful, it isn't scintillating or aggressive or a wild protest anymore than falling rain, or setting sun, or melting snow or blinking eyes or breathing in and breathing out is.

Breastfeeding just is.
Nursing babies are just being.
Nursing mamas are just doing what they do.
I wonder what will be newsworthy next: Sweeping our children's hair out of their eyes in public? (too intimate) Applying band aids to little boo-boo's in public?(health risk) Waving to them in public? (distracting to others)
I leave you tonight with a little list of things I have seen in public recently that may be of note:
*Two people on a blanket making out big time about 100 feet away from a citywide children's athletic field-day event.
People in extremely scanty or see through clothing, men and women
People picking their nose and eating it
People not washing their hands after lavatory
People scratching their bums repeatedly (inside the undies, unfortunately) and then touching merchandise/produce/shopping cart handles
Billboard ads that I would rate at least PG-13, for both language and photography
People sitting on each other's laps--facing each other-- and remaining in that position for the duration of an event.
Swear word t shirts, bumper stickers, pins, buttons, accessories.
Porno mags at every 7-11 we stop at for a slurpee, sometimes partially covered up, sometimes not.
Are thse things not sexual? Vulgar? Private? Innapropriate? But they would all fall under the catagory of "hey dont stare at me, Im just a free citizen, man"--am I correct?
Look, if you didn't already know this about me, I am completely and totally against censorship. I am liberal as all get-out, progressive and open and chill about many, many things, even things that I might wince at my young children being "exposed to", I would still be completely against censorship of.
But mothering in public seems to be something even worthy of discussion????
Astonishingly off track. So disturbing is the yuckiness of it all, I just do not know what to do or say. Its as though I live on a an alien planet, really.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Boobs were for babies back then: my guess as to what has happened

There has been so much about nursing in public lately, that I scarcely can deal with writing about it. Where I probably should find myself all enraged, instead I feel tired, annoyed, bored with all the sassy comebacks and what-we-oughta-tell-those-jerks, i.e. "You eat in the bathroom!", and, "Put a blanket over your head!" I dunno. I guess after so much of that, I really was left with my own reality and just a vague, tired feeling that hopefully, somehwere out there, would be a new, more interesting channel that had not been opened in my mind yet--and then poof! The always awesome Rixa posted her newest! Hooray!

Inspired and thrilled by Rixa's post about this article, I wanted to touch upon this cool photographic find, myself.

I loved these old pictures, and was not TOTALLY surprised. I have mentioned before that I was once the proud owner of a baby care book from the 1930's and it presented homebirth and breastfeeding in about a 50/50 equal light as it did hospital birth and formula feeding. (If that book would have been written just a few years later, it would have been a verrry different story, to be sure!) It was an interesting time in American motherhood, no doubt.

My guess as to why, even in an era of less rights for women, and more repression, and less equality in general, mothers would or could nurse in public with such casual comfort as displayed in these two fantastic pictures is pretty simple:

Precisely because this was pre 2nd-wave feminism*, precisely because this was back when women did women things and men did men things, and the battle for equality wasn't so literal yet, and precisely because the muddy, murky, futile waters of the Mommy Wars hadn't yet been dumped over everyone's heads like so much sewage, these women heard their baby cry for some milk, and just like that, they gave them some milk. Like I'm doing right now as I type. And like I would not feel as casual doing at the ballpark or on a bench on Main Street. I have, and I would, but not with the completely indifferent air that the woman in the first picture seems to possess. That scene is the one that I do in front of my children, my husband, my nursing mom friends. At those times, and those times only, my whole boob is out, (gasp!) and I could not care less. Baby is doing his business, I'm doing mine. Go ahead, call me chicken, call me a flop. I'm just being completely honest with you. I don't go and hide in the toilet, but I don't usually just sit there and nurse. A shame, a disservice to other moms, etc. Today I call myself a person living in these times and in a moderate political location, being truthful on my own blog.

I liked what these pictures re-reminded me of, something I have wanted to blog about forever, but have nt yet: the fact that not every "nursing session" is a lovey-dovey affair. Not by a long shot. I guess you could compare it to taking a shower: It could be the most amazing, sensual, meaningful, relaxing, fulfilling highlight of your day--or it could be rinsey rinse rinse, scrub a dub dub.

But back to breastfeeding not being a wine n roses affair--sometimes it lasts for 30 seconds. Most times you don't even rememebr if or when or for how long your baby took a moment to have some milk. That's what was so remarkable, for me, about the very unremarkable events that were captured in these pictures. There was no blanket, there was no nursing flap, and that was neato--but the real wisdom we can connect with in these photos is just the very lack of preciously gazing into each other's eyes, special rocking chairs, foot stools, or really anything else that implies breastfeeding is anything other than the most common and simple of daily affairs. Which is truer than anything else I have heard about this topic in a long, long time.

Oh, and another thing, which is honestly most likely to be the biggest reason that we all still can't say that we see this beautiful lack of self consciousness in mothering in 2007:

Boobs were still for feeding babies back then, not for selling beer.
Tell me what you think, or tell Rixa what you think. But it's really worth looking at, historically.

* My rudimentary view of the waves of feminism:
1st wave: the Suffragettes
2nd wave: Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, N.O.W.
3rd wave: Riot Grrl-present


Kelley brought up afterpains, and it just sent me back down memory lane so much that I wanted to respond in a post instead of in the comments section!

You see, I had read about them, sure. But with my first baby, they left me on a lot of medications for 24 hours after I had her, plus they aren't often as bad with the first babies, so I just did not have any.

With my second baby, I had a c-section, and in a small, small way it did save me from any noticeable afterpains. I was on IV morphine and then Toridol for three days, and then right on Darvocet and Tylenol 3's and I didn't fee them, either.

SO, as you might guess I was going to say, WOWOWOWOWOWOW was I BLOWN AWAY by this whole thing when I had Casey, baby #3 at home. HOLY #$%&!!!!

Almost as soon as he was born, I felt this horrible contraction! HUH?? I had to pant and blow and moan and this time, I was not a pregnant woman laboring freely on hands and knees anymore, the baby was born, and we were still attached by umbilical cord! I was kind of sitting on the edge of our couch, which only 2 minutes before was my place to bury my head as I roared out my son--help! help! someone still please care about me! OWWWWWW! again and again they came, and I knew that my third stage was not going to be a "quick and easy passage". This sucked! I was obviously 100% DONE and did not emotionally prepare for this at all. With the first baby, "they" handled everything, I think I remember being told "give us a push" and that's it. For the c section, "they" take it all out, I guess (?) So this "birthing the placenta" seemed like a bunch of cruel bullcrap to me! After about 15 minutes, I changed my mind about leaving the baby attached to its cord and asked--told--begged my midwife to cut the cord NOW, so I could deal with this.

Somewhere in my tired mind, I remembered reading a birth story about someone who did what I was about to do: I took a chux pad (those big blue pads) and opened the toilet seat, laying it under the seat. Then I sat there for the rest of the third stage and I couldn't have more relieved to REALLY be done with labor when that 2 pound placenta made it appearance. I didn't really know where to go, so I just sat in the bathtub, where it seemed the perfect time to draw me the herbal bath I had been smelling all afternoon, simmering reassuringly in its pot on the stove in my kitchen.

So, after the bath, I got all snuggled into bed with my pads and ice packs and fresh clean sheets and new clean pajamas and my dear, sweet, amazing new baby, who had been so thoughtfully diapered and bunted all up by his daddy while the midwife got to work cleaning the house and washing towels and I settled in to nurse him...when OWOWOWOWOWOW!!!! OHMYGOD OWWWWWWWW I started crying! Something was so wrong! OWWWWWWWWWW I felt like I was in labor AGAIN!!!! Is this a nightmare?? Is something terribly wrong?? I was actually moaning and really, really crying hard and I didn't give one glance to Arnica or anything else, I wanted MOTRIN, N O W.

Ooooh, those pains were just amazing in their ferocity, and I had never ever felt that before. I had them for the whole first week, when I nursed, as is the perfect and normal cycle of hormonal release. The baby nurses, and your uterus shrinks. The more babies you've had, the more it can hurt. A big healthy hungry baby like that, all alert with no drugs or trauma--wow could he nurse.

So, a big OUCH to this memory. Another one they don't really tell ya about, even mom-to-mom.

Due to all of this good and normal situation, this was the birth where I barely bled at all, unheard of in my other births, where due to no ability to rest whatsoever, the bleeding lasted well into the 2nd month, leaving me exhausted and anemically pale yellow and completely feeling gross.

After baby #4, another c-section, I could feel some afterpains when he nursed and when I used the hospital grade electric breast pump becasue he wouldn't nurse for a few days. I was on a good deal of medications, though, so I know those cut what I can't even imagine would be the pain of afterpains on a sliced uterus trying to go back to size after a 12 pound baby, the 4th born in 8 years. OUCH! My mom also gave me secret Vicodins, which I am certain are the only reason the police didn't have to come and take my children away that first week, the only way I possibly coped with being home alone with all 4 of them.

Interesting to me, wondering if others have any afterpain tales to share?

Friday, September 21, 2007

what about me?

As for my own research study, I worry that I may have implied things I didn't mean to. Like, if you were hurting after you had a baby then something is weird with you or whatever. Of course not.

So, since apparently I "go there" now, here's a little more than I ever shared before as far as my own post partum pain and healing:

Baby #1
Episiotomy. Terrible throbbing "something is ripping" pain. Aching. Pulling and ripping sensations. Like a little pliers was on me, and I got beat with a baseball bat for days. Couldn't stand or sit or spread my legs to put on pant-legs or step aside or anything like that. I Used ice packs, numbing sprays, tucks pads, for weeks. I ran out of all the stuff they gave me in the hospital and sent my husband out for behind the counter pharmacy runs for those very products. Had to do alot of running around in the form of "well baby" checks at four days (!) and one week (!!) and those trips out set me way back to the beginning as far as pain. I couldn't sit in a chair for weeks. I cried alot at how much I hurt, at home in the arms of my husband. I didn't want to ever have sex or another baby ever again and I couldn't have been gladder about it. I was afraid to touch or check myself for a few weeks, too horrified at what I might discover. Twingy sparky pokey pain forced me to feel around and I was surprised to feel just a bit of swelling and the stitches. A few days later they were gone--the "dissolving" kind.
I remember one shopping trip with my mom when baby was 1 month old, and how badly I ached. I felt foolish, like she was a big old baby now and why was I sore? I thought maybe I didn't do my kegels enough or something. I finally told my mom we had to leave the store because I couldnt stand up anymore. I skipped my six week check-up, as I couldn't bear the thought of a vaginal exam. I went at 10 weeks, and cried when the OB whipped the little paper doily skirt at me and told me to strip down and put that over my lap. I told her "I think they sewed me up too much" and she kind of laughed and said "we'll take a look". I was shaking almost seizure-like when she came back in, and I said I couldn't go through with it. she promised to just look and she said that she didn't need to do an exam today. I came back at 3 months and she had 2 strange men come and give me exams along with her. I told her exactly where it felt weird, and they whispered a bit to each other about something and then agreed to me having a "small repair". It was scheduled for Mid-December, my baby was born in June. Six months. Thanks.
The surgery was very uneventful. I was put under anesthesia, and told "everything went great" a few minutes later. I was sent home with some darvocet and another set of stitches. But this time I felt ok within a week, and me and my husband were able to resume life again ;)

C Section
But I pushed for an hour or so, and had many rough vaginal exams, a catheter, and a thing screwed into the baby's head. So, I was disappointed at the stingy achy perineum and hemorrhoids I got alongside my cesarean! such bullcrap!

Baby #3
I don't know how long I pushed, an hour or two, it was really gradual, at the peak of some of the contractions, I would push a bit, but the real hard pushing with every contraction where you have no other choice on this Earth but to do so was maybe an hour or so. I was achy, but not enough to make me cry or anything. I took an herbal bath as soon as the placenta was out, and that felt lovely. Midwife made me the most fantastic things ever--after the herbal bath, there was a big pot of herbs on our stove. So she took the wet herbs from the bottom of the pot and made small piles of the wet herbs wrapped up in sterile gauze and put these little packets into the freezer. My husband would bring me a new one every hour or two and I would put it where I needed to for pain. As the little frozen pouch melted from my body heat, the herbs (comfrey, garlic, lavender, etc) would release their healing properties.

I got into bed and stayed for 5 days. the last 2 days I was half in bed and half in the big velvety recliner. Once I was was out and about, I never had ANY residual aching, and bled for a very short time compared to my other births. I got to actually rest and actually not be neglected and deserted and it was all good. We took the new baby to the State Fair at 3 weeks old, which is not my style AT ALL, (being much more the type to nest in with a tiny newborn for a million reasons) but I remember it being very pleasant, and although we left tired, it was just a tired from going to the fair with a 6y/o, 3 y/o and a 3 week old, not anything about "Ow, my achin coochie".

Baby #4
C Section
I pushed for 4 hours. the nurses had their hands in me, trying to get me to "direct my energy downwards". they pushed and pushed the bottom of my vagina down, asking me "do you feel that? Can you push down here?" I pushed with a bar thing over my bed, to pull on, except due to the epidural I was numb. So numb I couldn't use my legs whatsoever. Couldn't push against the bed, the hands that were kind of holding my legs, but that was off and on, couldn't scoot up or back or anything. But I pushed. I pushed way beyond "10". They pressed and pulled and I worried about the pain I would have afterwards.

The c section pain is indescribable and I have never attempted to describe it in here and I am not going to today. But what was HORRIBLE also was my mangled perineum after all that stuff they did to try to help me! Holy jeepers! I was REALLY sore, and my bottom, oh god the hemorrhoids were out of this world. I demanded a real prescription. At first they ignored me, but I asked and asked and asked again, like a quadriplegic, I lay in that room, waiting for some hopes of someone coming in, I would jump at each little lunch lady sound in the hall , hoping it might be someone who would come in so I could inquire again about some real cream or something. they finally had a doctor come "take a peek" and he was like HOLY CRAP! and I was brought some steroid stuff within a half hour.

So, ok, skip past all the c section recovery, which took about a year. A little less. About 11 months to stand up all the way and not be limited in my activities or lifting. But the secret thing that I was suffering through for that first year as well was this terrible unnerving sensation that something was wrong inside inside of me, in my vagina. If I stood up for more than 5 minutes, I really needed to go lay on my side. It was like a throbbing vein, would be the best way to describe it. It was bad. My greatest desire was to make some kind of tiny frozen insert, like a little icicle, but I never did. That would have felt good, or at least that what I kept thinking would have been nice. But it is gone now, the last time I had that feeling was after a day of rediculous furniture moving, when I do that, I still feel about 3 months post partum in my abdomen and feel things aching a bit. I now know that even c section moms can have perineal problems. More super sucky untold secrets, right?

Well that's all. Wanted to put my own crotchal stories out there if I actually expect you-all to, right? I am completely so happy that we are discussing this. Even among girlfriends, it seems hard to get a chance to talk about things with all the kids around, at least in my house.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Negatively, permanently altered: a research study

Probably most adults alive have had the unfortunate idea planted in their heads that birthing babies can damage the "Pelvic Floor". This is a nice way of saying the baby, by sheer nature of it being "so big" supposedly wrecks/ruins/breaks/stretches/cracks/permanently blows out the vagina/coochie/pussy/whole down yonder of the mama, and that this is just our lot to bear as women and one of the sucky things about life. Lots of comedians with their ugly analogies about squeezing out grapefruits from their nostrils and bowling balls and lots of misogyny in the locker room.

What a difficult subject, and what historical road bocks we have to uncovering the truths! First of all, we have the sad fact that most women who we know and who are still alive in America, who have borne children, did so in a hospital. If we interview all of them and discover how many of their births were overmanaged, lithotomy-position, legs up in the air, flat on their backs, purple-pushing against their bodies and against their wills and against gravity and God knows what else kind of perineal disturbances were involved--scissors, sewing needles, stretching (the well intentioned perineal massage which has been shown to be very very damaging unnecessary and off base) forceps...we would be already facing such a large control group that it would be kind of hard to figure out what to even use as a control group.

Then factor in that noone wants to talk about this.

Then factor in the subjectivity and media-fueled mystery and self hate and all the taboos that surround the entire subject of women's bodies. (Ack! My study is so doomed before it even gets conducted!)

And what of our great grandmothers, and great-great grandmothers, who birthed with midwives, but in the era where "Hot water!" was called for--for the unfortunate purpose of holding hot, hot, often salt water soaked cloths against the perineum of the birthing an attempt to help stretch the vaginal opening, what they did was to perform essentially, a waterlogging and destroying of skin and sometimes muscle tissue, which had permanent consequences for the women on which this service was performed. Plus, lets remember that a woman of this era, even if she were alive to interview, would be socailly conditioned to be very reluctant to discuss something so private with us.

So, does having a baby have to be destructive to our selves? To our sexual futures, our reproductive futures, our ability to be continent and whole? If so, why would we be designed so poorly, or does that direct us back to that same old bit about "humans have such huge skulls, so it is hard to fit out of the pelvis...."

Here is an excerpt from another Sara Wickham article, in discussing the rhombus of Michaelis, a portion of a woman's back that is meant to move and shift during labor:
I think we need to get women to understand that, although epidurals are great for pain relief, they actually get in the way of a spontaneous second stage and vaginal birth. In many cases, the reason they've got an epidural is that the baby wasn't in the best position when it started, and the baby in the less suitable positions needs all the space he can get to turn around in. The OP baby needs the rhombus of Michaelis to move backwards so he has room to turn round so he can come out as an OA baby. The woman should then get out without having her pelvic floor damaged. Pelvic floor damage is a major worry for women, but if they can be in an upright position with their weight well forwards so that the rhombus is free to move, very little damage is done to their internal anatomy.

So, now on to me, and my experiences. Specifically with my homebirth of my 3rd child, Casey.
This was my only birth that was not in a hospital bed, and to say that I was in an "upright position" is putting it mildly. I was everywhere! Early labor I waddled between the hot shower and the floor, the birthing pool, and the floor, walking around the house, leaning over, always forward, always forward, to work through each contraction. To lean backwards would have been as unthinkable as choosing to hang upside down on monkey bars while pooping. Truly. I wish I had a lovelier analogy but I do not.

I rocked and rolled that baby on down, and the VAST majority of the labor was spent with me on hands and knees, the only position even close to bearable for the proper descent of a child with a 15 inch head and a 17 inch chest. I pushed when I wanted to, my midwife did not coach or boss me in any way, and no one touched me whatsoever down there. My body slowly accommodated my baby, and it couldn't have been more natural, the whole sequence of the thing.

I know I have said it again and again, that he weighed 11 pounds, and this time I have a point: I have seen those little glances especially from a few men, when the tale comes out that I had such a big baby. that little look--the one that thinks, for a spilt, shameful, rude, curious second, I wonder if she can swallow whole chairs with that blown out coochie.

But the area that I am wanting to examine today is the somewhat unknown fact, that for many women, if given a chance, birth does not have to do this to us. I always hoped it was true before I had babies, and now I know it to be true. When given the safe space to birth our babies, our way, our bodies are not cheap pieces of elastic, as Ina May puts it in her Guide To Childbirth book. We are not lemons, and birth is a normal part of life that we are built to do. So why would having our baby be so intrinsically damaging? I don't think it has to be, even for big, big babies. So check out what I wish I could do:

I may never get to interview women and ask them about their "pelvic floors". But if I did get the opportunity to travel through the ages and ask every mother about this very thing, here is a sampling of what I would need to know before any conclusions could be drawn that baby-having, in and of itself, was a Destroya of Vaginas.
"Does vaginal birth negatively and permanently alter the pussy?"
(Ok, I would probably have a way more professional title but whatever, I am just a bloggin' mama, typing the way I talk, if only to my bestest friends)
Was your birth induced or spontaneous?
Was your labor "managed" or completely natural?
Was your pushing stage "coached" (counting, being told to push or not to push by attendants)?
Were you instructed to hold your breath or pant or blow against your instincts?
Was anything applied to your perineal area, such as oils, fingers, hot cloths prior to crowning?
Was anything done to your perineal area during crowning, such as episiotomy, counter pressure, internal manual manipulation by attendants?
Did you have a forceps or vacuum extractor used inside of you?
Was your third stage (birth of placenta) "managed" or spontaneous?
Was your placenta manually removed?
How big was your baby?
After the birth, were stitches, sutures or glue applied to your perineum?
After the birth, were you given instructions to actively perform any activities such as sitz baths, blow drying, sunlamps, applying oils or creams to the perineal area? Did you do so?
Were you pressured to have a bowel movement as a condition of your being allowed to leave the hospital, and if so, were you given any medications to accelerate this process?
Were you encouraged to force a bowl movement with either medications or conditions and threats?
Were you able to rest off of your feet for as long as you felt necessary after giving birth?
Do you feel that you were able to resume sexual relations only when you felt 100% ready to?
Do you feel that your vagina, perineum, pelvic floor is permanently, negatively altered, whatever that means for you, since giving birth? How so? Does your lover (if applicable) share this belief?
Do you feel that your vagina, perineum, pelvic floor is exactly the same as before you gave birth?
Do you feel that your vagina, perineum, pelvic floor has been positively altered, whatever that means for you, since giving birth? Does your lover (if applicable) share this belief?
Well, that's my big study. Does vaginal birth have to drastically change our bodies, and how much of a role does managed medicalized birth play a role?
If I remember correctly from way back in science class, it is now my duty to form a hypothesis, so I am going to venture to guess that a managed birth, on any level, plays A HUGE ROLE in the postpartum and permanent resultant state of the pelvic floor.
Because for me, my Casey didn't do any harm at all. (and yes, my lover shares this belief.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Website yay!

This is the website by the author of the new book "Pushed", which I really want to read. Its fab--and the article about Codeine/Morphine being potentially deadly to newborns of course made my blood run cold. No wonder Charlie "Wouldn't nurse" till he was 3 days old--gee, thats the day they took my morphine away.


I know that evidence-based care doesn't seem to mean one hoot to hospital birth providers, but gosh, it still gets me everytime.

Why did I like my homebirth again? What do I tell the people again? Oh yeah--I remember--LESS DEATH!

What a strange thrill seeking hippie I am, I am, I am.

Another realm, undervalued, for being female

I am getting more and more into Sara Wickham, thank you SageFemme for turning me on to her work :)

I loved this article, because I absolutely LOVED being completely weird when I was pregnant. My husband totally honored and even encouraged this behavior in me, and I think it helped me a great deal.

What is weird? Of course I use this word in a tongue-in-cheek way, as it really is misogynistic to imply that anything not Male or Rational is therefore WEIRD. So, what I should say is deeply intuitive. Tidal. Inward. Aware. Sensitive. Open. Gentle.

I'm such a amiable tomboy normally, but when I was pregnant, I was so different. I just loved that. I spoke up for myself, even in seemingly unimportant ways: I said things like "I NEED" much more freely and less apologetically. "I need the blue pillow, a swiss cheese sandwhich, ice water, and the TV to be off".
"No, we are not going to that party/gathering/event."
"I need a fan, a grapefruit, and some jazz music."
"I need fresh air now"
"I need to lay down now"
"I need apple cider right now"
"I am going to go sit in the closet for a while"
"I am going to make a fort to read in now"

Stuff like that. Nesting and groovy and in another land. I was receiving commands from my body and my baby and they were the same thing and I was open to it. I don't think that is goofy and I don't think it is mush brain. But, just like so many of the other needs of pregnant and nursing mamas and babies, there is not a whole lot of room for that in this male centered society, driven by money and hurrying and rationalism and being hard edged and power hungry and isolationist and independent--where does the freedom to roam about on a prolactin cloud fit in? When and where will this be valued, besides in whispers among friends?

Gentle(r) Cesarean,,1656246,00.html#article_continue

What do you think about this? I am mixed. It makes me sad, because it makes me revisit my surgeries. So it is hard for me to be objective whatsoever. But yes, that whole scene sounds much, much "better" than my own c-sections.

If we can leave out all the why and just read it for what it is, then I give it a thumbs up for being more human. If we can leave out all the grey zone and often black and white zone about c sections, this would really give back some of what the mothers and babies "lost" when their normal births eluded them.

You know what, this actually is making me think more about what all is lost when a c section is performed. And one thing is that in the surgery suite, there is ABSOLUTLEY NO lovey dovey human or humane ambiance whatsoever.

I know alot of c-sections are called "emergency c sections". This is supposedly when it is a c section that was not scheduled. But I beg to differ. Both Mickey and Charlie were not emergency c sections, not to my knowledge anyhow. They were not in distress, their hearttones were fine. But it was determined that I could not push them out being immobilized and numb and flat on my back, and so they were cut out of me instead. Is that really an emergency?

Anyhow, there was CERTAINLY nothing like this when I had those 2. I dont think I was directly addressed once, even when I was vomiting to death, and it was running up into my eyes--all I heard was "turn her head, someone"

I wonder why we are suppossed to be protected from the horrors of seeing our own baby come out. Its so so so so so so so so so so so disturbing to the bonding process to be numb and then see some random kid and assume it is yours. Some people will get what I am saying and some will not. But I looked at Mickey and he looked at me and I didnt feel anything motherly towards him for weeks. WEEKS.

Did I mention I hate hospital birth?

Thoughts on the nursing tops

I think I am in the vast majority of women who, when looking for nursing clothes and such, are MUCH more unnerved at the idea of revealing their post-partum bellies than any brief flash of boob. Breast. I still struggle with which word is right. Some people think boob is rude. Some people think breast is a bit fanciful. Nursie is all mine have been called for ten years, so maybe I am a little warped :)

Its really a conundrum, though. Wanting to be all about breastfeeding in public without a second thought, and yet, wowee wow wow, lifting up your shirt when you just had a baby and having the bright red badges of motherhood (stretch marks) come a tumblin' out, along with any back fat, all completely emblazoned with the alarm-scarlet stripes--and then what if everyone sees that you are still in maternity pants? Brrr its cold out when you have to reveal your entire middle just to feed your baby--then add the weird posturing to try to keep your baby latched, your shirt down, your boob/breast vaguely under control--Oh, the list of horrors for me personally went on and on.

I never ever could do the whole nurse the baby in a baby sling thing, for one simple reason: My boob/breast is not on my collarbone, nor is it in an upright or manageable position when a child is hanging from my neck in 30 yards of fabric. Note my bitter tone--I NEVER was able to do the babywearing very well, and I tried and tried---this really seems to be for the small breasted and small baby--2 things I know nothing of. Four kids and I couldn't do it. There are tons of moms who walk around the stores with a secret baby down in the secret pouch, secretly suckling the whole time. SO so cool, but just absolutely physically impossible for me.

So back to me and my scarlet rolls of fat--I had an 11 pound kid and then a 12 pound kid in 2 years, ok? So if you are sitting there reading this with a confused feeling sweeping over your sleek and tight body, feel free to not leave a comment!

So, for me, my stress about nursing a new baby, in "public"--meaning in front of pals mostly, was again not so much about the BOOB as it was the midsection. So there were these nursing bras invented a few years back by Glamourmom that were supposed to be the answer to this very issue. They are a tank top/nursing bra combo, designed to cover up the tummy and back, with a nursing bra in the top part.


they are really short! Sigh. Like everything maternity and nursing, they are designed for the average woman, or the average very short woman--and buying a larger and larger size only gets you a wider and wider product. This is why I always hated the Motherwear catalog. Short and wide and expensive.

BUT TODAY I found out that they are now available in LONG! Woo hoo! They even make then in a minidress style, if the "long" isn't long enough. So, so cool.

Today, all my flame-red tribal body marks are now a dignified silver, and my nursling is a ginormous toddler who really doesn't ask to nurse when we are anywhere besides home, or if he is really sad or tired. When he is on my lap, he blocks all view of boobs, belly, and anything else. But I am really glad that Glamourmom is making these in long. Because tall moms exist, and apparently they have spoken!

Of course, there is the option of being an absolutely fierce and awesome human being, in all our stripey scarred and saggy glory, and forget the whole bullshit of covering up all together. I just haven't gotten to that point. I am a pretty modest person, I don't even wear shorts, really--so I don't know. Maybe in another time and place, in my matriarchal commune, sure, I'd bust it all out. I wish I could be like that now, but I know I am not.

Maybe we all need to down a glass of wine, take a deep breath, and throw all the special shirts and blankets away and just feed the children.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Comments received after the midwifery care and gentle homebirth of our baby:

You must be nuts
Whatever floats your boat
You're braver than I am
You're lucky it all went ok
Why would you do that?
Were just so glad everything went ok,
You really had us worried having no doctor
Don't they let you even see one doctor?
I wouldn't go around telling the world that you did that.
I couldn't have done that, too scary
I couldn't have done that, too risky
My husband would never have let me consider that, too risky/scary/dangerous.

* * * * * * *
Comments received after my three other births, with epidural anesthesia, internal fetal monitors, urethral cathterization, intravenous pitocin, Magnesium Sulfate, Nubain, Stadol, Phenergan, complete immobilization, 2, 4, and 11 piercings to the spinal column at each birth respectively, preventative antibiotics, 2 open abdominal surgeries, a scissors to my vagina, (then whoopsie they sewed it almost shut and made me threaten lawsuit before I could get in for a repair)teams of strangers with knives and soldering irons and sucking tubes and needles and masks and --oh yeah-- the crochet hooks to tear open my babies' water sacs:

Thank goodness you were at ___name of big impressive hospital.
So glad it all went so well!
Sounds like everything worked out.
Aren't you glad you ended up going to the hospital?
Good thing you didn't end up trying to do that homebirth thing again, huh?
My neighbor had a c section and she loved it
My neighbor's daughter had a c section and was completely recovered in about 5 days
Your babies are just too big, I guess.
Good thing
Good thing
Good thing
Good thing

Data, data, Mother Nature be damned.

Because she can say it so much better than I can, here is the latest from SageFemme on due dates and the oft-misunderstood/misdiagnosed pre-eclampsia.

I often wonder how much all the induced babies would really weigh, if left to their own birth-days.

I often wondered why so many homeborn babies were 9lbs+ rather than 6 or 7lbs. Nutrition? Or lack of pitocin on day one of week 40?

I often wondered why every 3rd trimester mama who had elevated blood pressure was being told they were pre-eclamptic when I read myself in Anne Frey's book as a teenager that there was a normal blood volume expansion at 28 weeks. Same for the "anemic"--everyone's anemic, right?

I started some fun threads on my message boards back a couple of years on Mothering Dot Commune with titles such as "Is Gestational Diabetes Bullshit or Not?" and got over 100 responses. I should go back and try to find those...

I often wondered why, in a book that I foolsishly lent out and never got back, which was written in the 1930's, it showed a type of a Bell Curve for babies birthdates as somewhere between 7 and 11 months (!!!!), and whatever happened to that mentality. It seemed cool to me.

I often wondered about those pee sticks and the weighing of the moms and was delighted and impressed when the weighing was optional with my midwives and the pee sticks were handed to me to take home. What? I am competant enough to go pee-pee on a piece of paper? And then be able to match colors and read a label? Sheesh next thing you know you'll be telling me I am competant enough to raise a child! Yikes!

I often wondered why some of the moms who were somewhat swollen with high-ish b/p's weren't told to go home, lay in their left side, eat some cucumbers, rest and hydrate themselves...nope, straight to the induction chambers you go, in most OB practices at least! Get that pesky pregnancy over with so we can put another check mark under LIVE BIRTH.

Data, data , its all about the data. The numbers. The quantification of something so so so outside the realm of that. Hospitals just really, really aren't well suited for what normal birth is all about. To put it mildly. Doesn't mean YOU didn't have a fine old time at your hospital. Doesn't mean YOUR one PAL/sister/cousin/neighbor/chick at work didn't "totally have to get a c-section"....just means that in general, it is well outside of the hospital realm to properly, holistically be a place where normal birth can best be unfolded.

Breastfeeding and working mothers

I need to address breastfeeding at work, clearly. But I never felt really qualified to do so since I pulled out of the full time workforce when my first baby was born, and have been puttering about this world for ten years now taking odd jobs such as babysitting and customer service, and mostly, doing the unpaid and noble volunteeer work that is called mothering.

I know we are all WORKING MOMS, but it is a phrase I am going to using here to mean women who go to work full time outside of thier home for pay, and cannot bring their babies or children with them.

So here is what I know:
My sister pumped at work and nursed her first baby until he was 8 months old. She had a decently supportive boss, and worked in a small office in a high position. But it was still awful, from what she said. At first, she had tons of milk, a freezer overflowing..but then her supply dwindled. She would pump 3 times at work, I think, and nurse the baby as soon as she got home, and all through the evening. I don not think she slept with him, but I could be wrong.

I would love to have some submissions in the form of guest-essays submitted to me via for me to publish with permission on here. Or just leave your story in the comments section.

For me, I know we need a much more supportive environment at work for nursing moms. They need specific, private, peaceful, clean rooms in which to go and pump for their babies, no teasing, no shame, no limits. I am willing to bet that people who get smoke breaks get more respect--getting to walk away from the desk 3, 4, 5 or more times a day to get away, go outside, see the sun, have a stretch...I know alot of people who refuse to give up cigarettes just because they would miss that getting away from the desk--sorry if this seemed unrelated...

So, moms, dads, partners, what would help? What would really help nursing moms feel 100% supported at work? Tell me so I can try to do something about it.

I wonder for how many women it really worked..because nursing a baby isn't every ___ hours some days. Some days you run around to a million stores, and you don't nurse the baby for a long time...but then there are those days, nights, weeks where you are so attached it seems almost 24/7. Growth spurts. Teething. Illness. Mysterious other baby reasons.

And then, I also slept with my nursling babies, who nursed on and off all night. To me, it was the only semblance of sleep I was gonna get. To me, waking up, waking "down the hall" to the "nursery", sitting in some chair, nursing for 1/2 hour wide awake, then trying to lay the baby down and tiptoe away, only to arrive at my own bedroom to hear the baby screaming bloody murder....well that's just not sleep. So all that night nursing was telling my body what the baby needed. But what if the working mom doesn't sleep with the baby, doesn't nurse all day, but has 3 good pumping sessions at work? Is that enough to tell our bodies we are exclusively breastfeeding? I do not know.

Also, of course, the USA has the most abysmal maternity leave in the developed world. We have all heard about Sweden and its ONE YEAR FULLY PAID maternity leave, and its paternity leaves, and we have heard about the other countries...but our country devalues women's work devalues traditional work, devalues dependence and values isolationism and separation of child and family more than any thing else, and so these mamas and babies, often still setting up milk supplies, often still bleeding, often completely exhausted, are teetering back into their work places, feeling like bewildered heroes, and then get to catch up with the giant inbox stack AND sheepishly remind their boss that they really, REALLY need to go pump, NOW.

What am I trying to say? I feel like this whole post is smacking of "don't have a baby unless you've also got a rich hubby" and OF COURSE that is not what I am saying or thinking, ever. But it is what this country and it's policies are shoving us towards, despite the fact that this scenario represents a very small minority of any American's reality.

Working moms, pumping, maternity leaves, respect, support, is this what its all about? Or is it about some way more radical seeming stuff? Working with our babies, like the pictures show us in Mothering magazine. Intentional communities aka communes? Tribal living?

Is all of natural parenting in danger? Are we all just making due in these 2007 times, trying our damnedest to create tiny pocketed facsimiles of what we really need to raise a child?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Guardians of breastfeeding

Can this be true? TEN percent of 6 month olds are being breastfed in the US?

Six month olds are tiny little new babies, most with one or no teeth yet. And NINETY percent of them are drinking formula?

I am astonished and sad.

We really need to figure out what is happening to all these nursing mamababies from the point that they leave the hospitals as nursing duos to the time when only one in ten of them is still together a mere six months later.

Are they leaving the hospitals with idiotic misinformation, reeling from their overmanaged births, completely unprepared for what breastfeeding a newborn is really all about?

Do the people who write the glossy pamphlets they slip somewhere into your going-home-kit even have a clue about human lactation or nutrition?

Are there ever, ever pictures in those pamphlets of mom and baby laying on their sides, in bed, maybe with hair greasy, maybe with their shirt off, red and botchy baby in a diaper...or is it always the same fully dressed mother in the glider, with her perfectly sturdy and also similarily outfitted 3 month old, no boppy pillow, no rashes, shoes tied, house tidy, oh so perky, "8 to 12 times a day"?

Who could live up to that? What does that image have to do with anything besides selling glider-chairs?

Has the entire hospital staff been bottle fed every four hours?

I direct this at hospital birthing mothers because they are in the vast majority in our country. 95%, I think? (correct me if i'm wrong)

I picture midwives not afraid to tell the mothers and family members what to expect in newborn care and feeding. Thats its all day all night no clocks no clocks no clocks. I picture midwives being available for phone calls and for real advice and for house calls 1, 3, and 7 days after birth. Or more.

I picture the UC moms being so self educated that they certainly would be able to handle realism and information and hopefully they have someone to call if things get squirrely.

So, what is happening to these moms and babies? Why are they quitting? What is the average age of quitting, I wonder? I have a bad feeling it is at about 2 weeks old when the hell and agony is too much, perhaps. Before they get to the happy-cherub part. Before they gain confidence. before they can see the sparkly bright eyes and before they can get into the fact that it is simple and convenient and awesome. Before they even have their milk in right. Before they are not bleeding and not hobbling and not sweating and not swimming in a sea of breast pads and maxi pads and laundry and pain pills and chaos, they are already quitting.

I blame so many things, but the lack of postpartum support, EVEN TO THE MOMS WHO "FEEL AWESOME", has absolutely GOT to be the number one factor.

Maybe it is their girlfriends, the ones who didn't nurse, the ones who don't have children, teasing them, asking them to go dancing, asking them when are you gonna wean, asking them doesnt it hurt? dont you feel like a cow? are you gonna do THAT in the restaurant? Being as uneducated and ignorant as most Americans are.

Maybe it is their husbands, partners, lovers, all with the same questions, hang-ups, fears.

Maybe it is their mothers, mother in laws, grandmothers, telling then they are nursing too frequently, offering to "take the baby for the night", telling them horror stories, making them go do that in the back bedroom so Grandpa doesn't faint away dead at the sight of a clavicle.

Mom+Baby belong in bed, or on the couch for a while. But boy oh boy does this " serene surrender" conflict hard with just about every single thing and symbol and vision and false advertising imagery we have ever learned or known or seen in these modern times. You know, celebrities, parenting mags, media lies, urban legends spread by well meaning in-laws...

We might read about "other cultures" whose women have a babymoon, a lying-in, 22 days, or a month, and we might smile for a moment and think "wow, how cool." But do we stop and see what that is rooted in?

We might tell our friends and sisters who just had a baby "call me if you need anything", but do we mean it? What about after the first couple of days postpartum? Do we stop and see reality?

Do we offer booties and layette sets or do we leave a hot pizza on their porch, ring the doorbell, and drive away? Don't we have 10 dollars for a family we know and love?

Have you ever been a laundry fairy for a new family, (something we requested specifically after the birth of both our 3rd and 4th children and did not recieve?) How nice it would be to have them just put their clothes out on the porch and have them returned folded and fresh. What a little deal it would be to you and what an incredible blessing it would be to them. The new family. Community.

Have you ever just went and sat with a new mom, kept vigil with her on her couch, helped make the boppy and the water bottles and the leaking all seem fun and funny and normal and cool?

I am so sad for the nursing mamababies who quit, 9 out of 10 of them according to this study, before they even hit the half year mark. I hope this can change, but pinpointing exactly what happened would be complicated. Between all the "I didn't have enough milk" and whatnot, many of these people probably don't know what happened, really.

If only we could all be guardians of breastfeeding initiation and continuation rather than just lip-service supporters who remain isolated from each other.

I think newborn mamas and babies need much more protection and guradianship than pregnant women do. Most women's bodies do all the work of growing a baby, and outside of the basic needs for nutrition and rest, the vast majority of women can and do grow their embryos and fetuses just fine. But apparantly 90% of women in our country haven't been able to sucessfully nurse their children for even 1/2 a year.

Something HAS to be done.