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Knitted in the Womb Notes

Location: Allentown, PA

I'm a Christian wife and a mom to three daughters and two sons. I'm a member of the board of directors of EmPoWeReD Birth. In my "spare time" I'm a doula, and a certified childbirth instructor.

Monday, October 30, 2006

What could I possibly gain from having a foreskin?

Okay...I personally wouldn't gain much from having one, because I'm female...but it is a question that many men ask when they are considering whether or not to have their sons circumcized. It goes like this:

"One of my arguments [about why our son should not be circumcized] was the same as your statement above...."loss of function". However, my dh (dear husband) was unmovable with that. He has lived with his penis being circ'd his whole life and doesn't feel he has any "loss of function."
I've never done this before...but my hubby has...I'm going to "borrow" an entire post from someone else. It is just so funny...I have to. KWIM? So here it is...one person's response to the statement above when it was made on the Circumcision Debate disscussion board at Parents Place.

You know, If our DH's based any other decision on such faulty reasoning we would smack them upside the head with a 2x4, but since it's circumsion it suddenly makes sense?

It's like someone is going to give us a brand new Lexus. But DH says, "No Thanks! I had a Lexus once and my KIA Sephia is so much nicer. Drives better than a Lexus. No way I'd get one of those."

And then we remind him, "Honey, that Lexus was stolen out of the driveway before you even got the chance to drive it. How do you know the KIA Sephia is just as nice?"

"I just know! I'm glad that Lexus was stolen before I got to drive it. Probably saved me a lot of trouble. And by golly, I'm going to make sure our son has a KIA instead of a Lexus too!"

"Hold still honey, I don't want to miss with this 2x4."

But when it's cutting up our sons genitals, he must now what he's talking about, right?



Friday, October 27, 2006

Natural Labor Induction--Dinner and a Date

So often when I talk to women in the last weeks of pregnancy, what I hear is a recollection of all the "natural" methods they have tried to induce labor. And frankly, I find this disturbing.

I have to admit, the most after my due date that I've gone with any of my 4 pregnancies was 2 days...and I was in denial that I was in labor when it started because "I'm not having this baby for another week--I have things to do!" And each pregnancy there after I birthed at 39 weeks on the dot, so with the exception of the 4th I was still repeating the same mantra as labor started "I'm not having this baby for another week--I have things to do!" By the 4th I had accepted my reality, and predicted the birth date 2-3 months in advance.

So anyway, bottom line...I've not been one to eagerly pursue induction (though I was induced with my second--water broke but no labor). But I've also not gone through the waiting many women experience when they go past their "best before date." Oh, wait, that's an "ESTIMATED due date!" I can't really say if I wouldn't be in the "what can I do to get this baby out?" camp if I did go much past my due date. But the thing I find most disturbing is the women who are starting the natural induction techniques as early as 37 weeks.

Just because it is "natural" does not mean that it is "risk free," which I think is a distinction that many people fail to make. Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac are all natural. So is a bite from a Viper. Blue and Black cohashes have been linked to heart problems in the infant. Castor oil can cause the baby to pass meconium in utero. (Note: It has been pointed out to me that many midwives dispute this notion linking castor oil to meconium. I don't know of any research one way or the other...so for now I'll drop that from my list of "known" side effects and just stick with the annoyance of running to the bathroom over and over and over...) Nipple stimulation and walking really don't seem to work to induce labor so moms may needlessly tire/discourage themselves trying these methods (but they can be very effective for augmenting labor). Most importantly, if the natural method does trigger labor a few days sooner than it would have started on its own, who is to say that the baby is quite ready yet? Or the mom's body? My own experience with having my membranes stripped in my first pregnancy (without my consent) was that I had a very long labor--I think in part because my body was not quite ready to labor yet. There were other factors too, but I think that one was high on the list.

So when moms ask my opinion on labor induction, my first advice is that they try to hang in there...the average nulipara (woman who hasn't given birth before) will be pregnant for 41 weeks 1 day, while the average multipara goes to 40 weeks 3 days. So for many women, they are stressing about being "late" when they haven't even reached the average gestation for their situation. Further, for there to be averages, some moms have to go even longer than that.

Beyond that, I encourage moms--really and truly--to QUIT trying to start labor. Try to take their minds off the question of "will I EVER have this baby???" I know..hard to do. With my 4th pregnancy I experienced for the first time being tired of being pregnant...and I was only 6 months along--LOL!

But seriously, adrenaline, created from stress, can inhibit labor. So I think that trying to relax and just giving the whole "I've got to get labor going!" thing a break may be very helpful.

I encourage moms to take a day weekend for some pampering. If she has older kids, she might want to get them involved in this, though she should use her own judgement on whether they would relax her, or keep her "on the ready." Anyway...I encourage mom to take a nice long soak in a tub complete with dim lighting, scented candles, and some soft music. When she gets out, perhaps the kids can have heated towels waiting, and maybe they could have been preparing the master bedroom to be a haven while mom was bathing--putting fresh sheets on the bed, setting up a light snack and some candles, music, and dim lighting. Mom should enjoy the snack. Let the kids (if they can do it well) give a foot massage. Let partner give a full body massage (kick the kiddos out of the room for this of course--LOL!). If the massage leads to something...hey, go for it. But if it doesn't--mom shouldn't stress herself and think "I need to have sex, it might kick start labor."

Mom should then take a nap. A nice, long, deliciously decadant one. One of those ones that mom wakes up feeling kind of like a cat who was basking in sunlight, and wonders with thankful amazement at how the kids didn't wake her up (because they were sent outside or to friends to play, or DH kept them busy reading books).

When she wakes up, her kind hubby will have dinner ready for her (yes, he will, mom should let him know that is his job. ;-), or will have made arrangements to take mom to a restaraunt that makes her feel relaxed & pampered. This is not the time for a buffet or fast food (unless you want to have DH bring Boston Market food home to eat by candle-light--that is yummy!). Mom should let someone else serve her.

Mom can tuck the kids into bed to get those nice maternal hormones going. ;-) Then more massaging if she is in the mood--at the very least, a nice cup of chamomile tea, and off to sleep early.

If calming down the adrenaline in her system allows labor to begin--GREAT! She is well rested for the task. And if it doesn't--GREAT! When is she going to get a chance to rest like that after the new baby comes? ;-) And taking the break will allow her to be more energized to pick back up on trying some way to give labor a kick start.

And that's it. It's worked for several of my clients. ;-)

Other posts on my blog about pregnancy:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

News about birth...

It's a busy, busy week when it comes to news about birth.

First, I simply must say, since I've so many times posted my frustrations about birth, that I recently attended a really great birth. The mom and the dad worked SO well together...it was one of those situations where, as a doula, at times I felt like I was intruding on a very private moment. But they wanted me there.

Mom worked SO well. Then she hit that classic "I can't do this anymore, I just want an epidural!" moment. I suspected transition because her water had just spontaneously ruptured, but didn't say that because she had been 5 cms barely an hour before. She had been able to be easily disuaded from an epidural an hour earlier, and I could see that wasn't happening at this point. So I did my "good doula" job, and started making suggestions to propell the nurses along in doing what they needed to do to get her ready for an epidural--suspecting all the while that it wasn't going to happen. But you know what needs to happen...getting that all important IV put in and running the bolus of fluids to prevent a drop in BP as a side effect of the epidural... Except that research shows that the bolus of fluids does NOTHING to prevent the drop in BP...but hey...

And what do you know, she was in transition. A few contractions later and I could hear it just as the nurse returned to the Jacuzzi room with the tray of stuff for putting in the IV--she was ready to push! It does amaze me sometimes how hospital staff don't know that sound, and they need to do a vaginal exam to verify. Or maybe they do know it, and like me, they aren't willing to say anything because if they are wrong it will be upsetting to the mom... I knew what they were going to find--baby's head was "right there!" Mom pushed for barely 15 minutes before holding her precious little girl in her arms.

Was really hysterical when a nurse--not the fabulous nurse who had been assigned to mom for her labor, but another of the myriad of hospital staff that showed up in the room for the "precipitous" birth--tried to convince her that she should lay down on her side to push to "utilize gravity." "What exactly about this position doesn't utilize gravity?" shot back the not-so-patient-at-that-moment mother. She was kneeling on the bed with her bum on her feet, back to the Dr, leaning slightly forward. Not exactly the most "OB friendly" position, but it was working for her. Nurse made up some cockamamy explaination about how the tailbone was UNDER the baby with the end of it running nearly parallel to the floor. Wished I had a model pelvis with me at that moment to show the nurse how it was currently oriented, and how the end of the tailbone was actually pointing straight down to the floor. Anyway...mom stayed where she was at and kept pushing.

I really do find it funny though...when mom is in a non-standard position that is really working, she is often encouraged by the hospital staff to switch to a "more productive" position--that is, one that is more conducive to the medical procedures they want to do. But if mom is in one of those "more conducive" positions, she is told how she is making great progress and should keep using this position, this is a fabulous position--even if she pushes for an hour in that position and doesn't make ANY change to the baby's station.

ANYWAY...this post is about Birth in the news...

National Public Radio did an interview this week with Tina Cassidy, the author of the new book "Birth: the suprising historyof how we are born." Among the many things discussed: baby'srotation, Dr. Bradley's contribution, midwifery and natural birth today. Definitely worth checking out.

Also in the news, the long awaited report on the 2nd "Listening to Mothers Survey" have been released. The news is not surprising to folks who advocate natural childbirth. They showed that no, women are not selecting cesarean with no medical cause in great numbers, despite recent media reports that attempt to blame the rapidly rising cesarean rate on "maternal request" cesareans. They also found that 4 out of 5 women who birth via cesarean reported pain at the site of their incision 2 months after the birth, and twice as many women who birthed via cesarean felt their post-operative pain interferred with daily life than did mothers who birthed vaginally. The survey further found a rather high use of interventions even in vaginal birth, including a 56% urinary catheter rate, 34% induction rate (35% of those for non-medical reasons), and 47% Pitocin useage rate.

This survey is definitely worth looking at if you are interested in birth information.

Fashion Free Zone

My oldest daughter is turning 8 in a few days, and selected for her birthday the "Fashionista" themed party gear from Birthday Express.

I'm not sure if there is any connection at all here...but my six year old daughter, Katie, approached me the other night and told me that we have to get rid of all "fashion clothing." I was somewhat bemused. I try not to look too dreadfully out of style, but I'm not exactly a trend setter when it comes to clothing. ;-) I'm more of a "traditional basics" kind of girl. So I asked her what she meant.

Pointing to my shoes, she said "we can't have fashion. You need to get rid of those."

"Those" shoes were a pair of rather plain black loafers. These are shoes that while I find them to be "acceptable" for the office, when I'm wanting to look really put together, they are the flats that I wear for driving and walking across the parking lot, shedding them when I reach my desk for a more polished option.

If she wanted to pick a pair of my shoes that were "fashion," perhaps she could have selected my brown faux crocodile heels with the white stitching--a walk on the wild side for me, they always garner compliments. ;-) Or perhaps my black open back heels with the fun crisscrossing straps.

But she chose my very servicable loafers.

I never could get her to explain what was so wrong with "fashion" that we had to get rid of it. But I found her choice of what was "fashion" to be amusing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Are weddings about family...or a formal ceremony?

As an offshoot to a discussion about churches, one member of an e-mail list I'm on shared the following story:

Last Oct. when we were in Kansas for my Mom's wedding my oldest son (then 11) went to church with his cousins. (Ages, 7, 11 &14 at the time.) Right in the middle of the service the pastor stopped and said "Courtney H. (my 14 year old niece) turn off your cell phone and STOP text messaging while I am preaching!" Benjamin was shocked, appalled and embarrased that he has a cousin that would do such a thing! LOL I was impressed that the pastor would put a stop to it in the middle of service. Turns out she was text messaging the person behind her!

Okay...this is just SO much a touchy point right now! My husband has 2 older brothers. The oldest is actually a pastor, and performed my husband's and my wedding ceremony. The 3 brothers are close in age, but DH's older brothers got married right out of college, while my husband and I married just 11 days before he turned 36. So our four kids are significantly younger than their cousins.

June 2005 the middle brother's oldest son Doug announced his engagement with plans to marry in June 2007. We thought this long engagement was not a good idea...but hey...not our life... We later would find out that it was the bride's parents' idea--they wanted her to finish college before getting married, which I suppose I do agree with.

Anyway...This spring the oldest brother's oldest daughter Allie announced her engagement with plans to marry on December 16, 2006. Okay...not *exactly* when I want to be making time for a bridal shower and wedding, but I'm happy for her, and can understand the allure of a December wedding. :-)

In late August suddenly SIL--wife to middle brother--started making oh so cheerful bubbly phone calls to family..."Guess what? Doug decided he is just too lonely, and he can't wait to get married, so he is moving the wedding up to December 9! Isn't it so wonderful, cousins getting married just a week apart!"

Ummm...NO! It is NOT wonderful, it is down right tacky to plan your wedding one week away from your first cousin's wedding. But DH will not let me say anything, so all I can do is smile and bite my tongue when we are together and she starts gushing. (NOTE: I later learned that Doug had received word that he was going to be shipping to Iraq several months before his original wedding date...once I learned that I had a LOT more sympathy for his change in date. He wanted to make sure he was married before he shipped out, and didn't have a lot of options since his bride was still in college.)

So anyway...we had accepted that this is the way things are. Then we get the invitation to Doug's wedding. Addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Steven R...." Which of course I know means "no kids." GGGRRR. DH doesn't believe me, but allows me to call SIL to clarify. I mean really, they expect us to give up two weekends during the holiday season, and now we aren't even going to be allowed to spend it with our children? In fact, we would have to spend probably about $65 for a babysitter given that we will be at the wedding for 7-8 hours minimum with travel time figured in--if we are going to be blessed enough to be able to find a sitter willing to give up a whole Saturday in December??? Do you know how hard it is to find a suitable sitter for 4 kids?

So probably fortunately, SIL wasn't home when I called. So when she called back, she got DH, and he talked to her pretty civilly, but explained to her that if we couldn't bring the kids to the reception, then we probably would not attend the reception because the kids will be really hurt if we exclude them from the wedding ceremony. A couple days later she calls back and says that several members of the brides' family had been sending back RSVP's with children listed on them, and so they had decided to allow children to come to the reception. YAY!

Then last week the invitation came to Allie's wedding. Again, "Mr. and Mrs. R...." I told DH he should call his brother to clarify, but he refused. Said "Doug and Lynn were swayed because of people just RSVP'ing kids, so we are just going to do that with this one." I wasn't happy with this, but just went along with it. Brother-in-law called up. Isn't budging. So DH explained to him that we would just attend the ceremony, but not the reception.

But it isn't just the reception--all children under 10 are banned even from the ceremony! It's going to be "formal," and they don't want children to disturb it. GGGGRRR!!!!!!! Which I have to say, REALLY torqued me, because when we drove over 4 hours to attend BIL and SIL's 25th anniversary with them, our daughters were just bubbling over with their excitement about attending Allie's wedding (wanting to be flower girls because they were just flower girls the previous weekend at a wedding for my youngest female cousin), and neither of them had the courtesy to pull me aside and say "you know, we probably will not have children at the wedding, you might want to explain this to them." And again, this wedding is a couple hours drive from our house, so we are looking at needing child care for 8+ hours.

BIL insists that he has attended nearly 200 weddings (he is a pastor after all), and there was never children at them. DH said he actually kind of got the impression that this was something he told brides and grooms that they should do--but I don't know about that. He never said anything to us about not having kids at our wedding (which, BTW, is one of the things that always bugs me about "no kids" policies at weddings. Steve and I actively embraced having kids at our wedding, putting "Children's Menu" as a meal choice on the RSVP card. Yet with 150 guests in attendance I can only think of less than a dozen children under the age of 10 that attended the wedding (including 2 children of middle brother, and oldest brother's youngest child had just turned 9 barely a week prior, I think his next younger child may have been 11)--and they certainly did nothing to be disruptive. So what is the point of offending your friends and relatives? It probably cost us well under $100 for the kids' food. I think that brother-in-law just didn't notice the children at all those weddings he's been at because they weren't disruptive!

So anyway...oldest brother-in-law simply is not budging. No kids at the reception OR the ceremony. I was brought up being taught that it was rude to deny anyone the chance to celebrate the wedding ceremony if the person wasn't disruptive--even a complete stranger off the street. But here we've got a pastor telling us that his nieces and nephews--1st cousins of the bride--are not welcome simply because their age is in the single digits. Because they might be disruptive to the solemness of the ceremony. As if a 14 year old text messaging (or the 14-15 year old altar boy who seemed to be cracking jokes with himself during my grandmother's funeral) isn't disruptive! Of course I don't exactly think the Pastor handled the text messaging well (he didn't need to humiliate her--would he have similarly "called out" an adult texting during the sermon? He could have spoken to her after the service, or he could have made a general comment about text messaging being inappropriate.).

In a tongue in cheek kind of way...I suggested to my husband that we get a "money holder" gift card to give the bride and groom, and put a note in it explaining that our gift to them is hurting our children deeply by paying $X for a sitter so that their wedding would not be marred by the presence of such unbearable creatures as CHILDREN. Of course I will not really do that...but it is tempting--especially with the "they can't come to the ceremony" thing.

The last time I went to a "no kids" wedding was my cousin's wedding 5 year's ago. Since we were traveling across the state and would have to spend the night, there was simply no leaving the kids (just 2 at that time) home with a sitter. So we took them to the ceremony (which they loved!), but then my grandmother's neighbor babysat them for the reception. But from the minute I walked into the reception hall without my children, all I heard from my relatives that rarely see the kids was "where are the girls?" "you HAVE to go get the girls!" I also noted that there were just as many kids at that reception as had been at my own. My relatives harassed me to the point that I finally did leave the reception, drove back across town to my grandparents' house, and got the girls. And they had a GRAND time.

Of course I also know that a part of excluding children is a cost factor...people simply feel that they can't "afford" to feed the kids...or even in some cases adults that they would have "liked" to invite. When hubby and I were planning our wedding (which we paid for ourselves, no help from any parents), we made our guest list first, and then having that number, we then determined how much we could afford to pay per person for the reception, and sought out a facility that fit into that budget.

Weddings are about celebrating the commitment of marriage with family and friends. NOT about setting out to have the most stunningly formal event you can possibly put yourself into debt for. If you can afford a formal event, WONDERFUL. But I think that it is selfish to sacrifice having close family attend an event in favor of having an expensive reception.

Don't forget that kids are people too. :-(