Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm slain... that three-week-old smile

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Birth Beat

Hilarious, as well as a painful reality.

I've been meaning for some time to blog about this, but I didn't want to do it until I had enough time to really say what I want to, which, you know, never really happens, so I'm just going to take a stab at it. P.S. This IS the longest post I've ever written, so don't bother reading it if you have absolutely no interest in childbirth. Or do. But don't feel obligated, because I won't ask you about it next time I see you. You're safe.

Josie's labor was a jumble of both good and bad. For months and months I would play out in my mind the whole experience, just trying to process it. There were a few complications during labor that made it stressful and difficult for me (the precautions limited my options and freedom significantly i.e. continuous internal fetal monitoring that restricted me to the bed), and so in that sense I disappointed. I had a fairly negative experience with my healthcare providers; it felt like it was Me vs. Them, and that my desires to birth naturally were met with a whole lot of reluctance, pessimism, and at times, straight-up doubt that I had the ability to do it. And after it was all over, I honestly couldn't believe I'd gone through that much pain. The whole experience was completely surreal. So, all those things sound bad. True. The good part, no, the amazing part, which I also went over and over in my mind, completely in awe of the experience--was when I pushed her out, and she was resting on my chest. It was unbelievable. I had worked so hard for her, and there she was. Real. Really in my arms. It was like a climax of utterly intense emotions--love, pride, relief, strength, empowerment, exhaustion.....gratitude. I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. But backing up a little bit, during transition (for all you who don't know yet, that's the period of time when you go from dialating to ready-to-push), I had that classic moment of self-doubt. It's very typical for women to doubt their ability to really do it during transition, and I definitely did. Suddenly the physiological experience becomes so intense that you wonder how much longer you can keep it up. The good thing about transition however, is that it means you're almost done; ironically, that feeling comes when you're so near the end. Anyway, I was expressing these feelings of doubt to Allan, and my midwife Mindy sat down and said "honey, you are no less of a woman if you need medication now. Don't feel guilty if that's what you want." I was frustrated by this comment, but I didn't have the energy or frame-of-mind to articulate that I wasn't birthing unmedicated because I wanted to be "a woman." I wasn't looking to feed my ego with toughness or bravery; I wasn't out to prove anything--in fact, I'm positive that if that were my motivation, I wouldn't have been able to actually do it! I was laboring unmedicated because I believed it was better for me and my baby. So here's the point of this anecdote. In the months following her birth, I thought a lot about that moment, and knew that if I were ever going to labor unmedicated again, I needed to KNOW exactly why I felt that natural was better for me and my baby. I wanted to understand perfectly all the pros and cons of both medicated and unmedicated labor. IF I ever were to labor naturally again, I had to, or else I knew that I couldn't do it.

So, that experience is what initiated my obsession with childbirth. For months I've poured over books on birthing--books advocating both natural and medicated labors. I went to the library, searched "childbirth," and basically checked out everything that came up. I wasn't really interested in labor methods as I was about learning the risks and benefits and even simply the physiological process of childbirth. As I learned, two things began to happen. First of all, I began to think that most of my disappointment and frustration with how Josie's birth played out stemmed from the attitudes of my careproviders, as well as (what I believed to be) unnecessary interventions, which were all largely a result of my own ignorance. Secondly, the debate in my mind became less about natural vs. medicated, and more about being informed enough to make good decisions, and then actually having the freedom to make them. I felt like I had very little choice during Josie's labor because the complications were blown out of proportion, and I felt I had little or no say in the decision-making process. I was mad about that, and the more I studied the more I believed that the lack of knowledge on my part had made me unconfident and unqualified to voice my objection to what was going on, because I didn't really know whether or not their attitudes and the precautions taken were necessary or not, and so I couldn't voice my gut feeling that everything was fine. Limited knowledge meant limited power.

As I gained knowledge through study, I felt I gained power too. I discovered that so much of my anxiety to deliver again was related to my ignorance in the why/what concerning both the physiological process of childbirth, as well as the safety interventions into that process. I came away with a reverence for our women-bodies, and complete confidence in my body's ability to labor just fine without anyone or thing interfering. I know that may sound presumptuous, but I believe that. I recognize that there are times when intervention is necessary and miraculous, and for that I'm grateful. But I also believe that MOST of the time our bodies know exactly when and what to do, and that often modern medicine can screw up that process.

I realize this is a sensitive topic for some, and so I wholeheartedly hope this doesn't come off offensive to anyone. Believe that I don't mean it to be! These are my experiences and feelings, and my journey to them was so personal that I wouldn't dream of ever telling anyone that laboring naturally is right for them--I would sooner tell them how many kids to have. What I do want to say, and what I've come to feel passionately about, is EDUCATE yourself! No matter what your ideal childbirth is, or how the heck you feel about medication during labor, knowing what's happening, why they're happening, and when intervention is needed, can only give you more confidence, peace, and ability to make healthy and informed choices during your own labor. If some type of intervention (i.e. induction, epidural, forceps, vacuum, episiotomy ETC) is needed or desired unexpectedly, knowing what's up will give you the power to choose rather than letting decisions be made for you, or in my case, allowing myself to be manipulated into certain decisions because of the fear factor (they said things like "you want a healthy baby, right?" Of COURSE I did! Every mother does! But not knowing anything makes THEM the authority on what's best). Plus, it will give you more choices. I promise. Example: Say you're a week overdue, and your providers want to induce you. Do YOU know the risks involved with an overdue baby? Do you know the risks of induction? Do you know the risks and benefits of allowing labor to begin on its own? Ok, so say you think induction is necessary--do you know the many different ways to induce and the risks/benefits involved with each? It is likely that your careproviders will give you one option, when in reality, there are many, and some are much less invasive than others. This is the case with medication, monitoring, pushing, positions, delivery, post-partum care, the list goes on and on. The more you know, the more choices you have.

And what's more, I feel like my confidence in being able to make good decisions, and my body's ability to its thang thang made everything go smoother during my labor. Merritt's labor was so calm and relaxed. It was such a positive experience ultimately, and I'm positive that my preparation made the difference. I think that at the end of the day, preparation and control have a lot more to do with satisfaction of experience than the presence or absence of pain. Reading up will only help you--regardless of how you choose to labor. Have I made my case??

I'm taking the liberty of listing here some of my favorites reads here.

Pushed: the painful truth about childbirth and modern maternity care by Jennifer Block. This is soooooo interesting. So fascinating. Read it. It's packed with studies and statistics and interviews and stories and it's really really good.

Easy Labor: every woman's guide to choosing less pain and more joy during childbirth by William Camann. This was my favorite book written from the pro-medicated side of the fence, and it provides a pretty good (although biased) overview of what you should know. I recommend this to the woman who wants her epidural yesterday. I also strongly recommend reading this ALONG with:

Easing Labor Pain: the complete guide to a more comfortable and rewarding birth. by Adrienne Lieberman. And this was my favorite book written from the pro-natural side of the fence. It also provides a pretty good (although biased) overview of what you should know. Again, I strongly recommend reading this along with Easy Labor. PS in this same category I also really enjoyed Labor Pain: a natural approach to easing delivery by Nicky Wesson.

Birthing From Within: an extra-ordinary guide to childbirth preparation by Pam England. I want to own this book. I love it. As far as labor methods go, this is it for me. It's all about trusting the natural physiological process, and just getting in touch with your inner birthing self. It also deals a lot with the psychology of birth, and working through you own issues (i.e. fear, anger, regret, disappointment, etc). And it has "birth art." Hello....What's weirder and cooler than birth art?!

The Business of Being Born (a documentary) produced by Ricki Lake. Yeah, so you should probably watch this now. Like, today. It's basically a very poignant, condensed documentary version of Pushed, and very worthwhile. Disclaimer: this has a lot of naked women giving birth, as well as naked women cursing while giving birth. PS. this streams from NetFlicks, and we watched it by signing up for the trial version.

So that's it. I'm genuinely sorry it's so long. If you want to know more about any of this, or want to read my birth story (Merritt's), just let me know. Another disclaimer though, my birth story is not for the weak of heart, and probably not for men. You know, just FYI.

Love you. Hug, hug, kiss, Big hug, leetle kiss.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Meet Merritt

So I just realized that we don't have any whole body shots, which is a shame, cause he's got a pretty one. So solid and cute. I do have amazing news, though. He successfully peed in his mouth this morning while I was changing him. He started to pee while I was between diapers, and so I tried to block the pee with my hand, but not before a very accurate stream had gone directly into his open mouth. Gross and kinda cool.

Here he is. You gotta love those CHEECKS! And the hair! Oh, isn't he just amazing??

He reminds me of Josie in this one. The eyes are really similar to her's at that age.
And this one is classic. This was literally moments after I pushed him out, and I definitely look the part. When I looked in the mirror a little while later and said "Yikes" the nurse said, "just think of it as war-paint." I just love the picture cause it brings me back to that on-top-of-the-world moment that it was. So great.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The grande debut

Hey ya'll. So it finally happened! I'll put pictures up later, but for now, here's the quick version: I went into labor 1:00 pm on Monday May 4, we got the hospital at 3:20, and BAM. By 3:54 he was here. SO QUICK. It went absolutely perfectly, and I'm still just floating around here on cloud nine. He's BEAUTIFUL and perfect, and HUGE. He was 9 FAT pounds 1 ounce, and------you ready for this??? He's got RED hair! (Thanks to Allan's beard). So that's it! I'm doing great, (I can't believe how good, actually) and we're just getting ready to head back home. Hooray! Oh, yeah--his name. He sort of just named himself, really. We were COMPLETELY undecided, and then when we finally met him, his name just sort of popped out.
Merritt Allan Tribe
(A big loving shout-out to my bro Merritt:))
Love ya'll! Stay tuned for pictures!

Friday, May 1, 2009

This better be the last belly shot...

INIGO: I do not suppose you could speed things up?

MAN IN BLACK: If you're in such a hurry, you could lower a rope, or a tree branch, or find something useful to do.

INIGO: I could do that. In fact, I've got some rope up here. But I do not think that you will accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you.

MAN IN BLACK: That does put a damper on our relationship.

INIGO: But I promise I will not kill you until you reach the top.

MAN IN BLACK: That's very comforting. But I'm afraid you'll just have to wait.

INIGO: I hate waiting.

Me too, Inigo. Me too. Inigo is waiting for a duel-to-the-death--which, for all his confidence, could be rather grueling--and yet the anticipation of it all is unbearable. I'm due tomorrow, and the only indication of that is my enormous belly. No real signs of anything going on. In fact, I feel annoyingly comfortable. My back has stopped hurting these last couple of weeks. My pinched nerve really hasn't bothered me. I'm sleeping pretty dang good. I can walk miles without feeling like the baby is going to fall out. I'm not complaining, but it makes me feel like I might just stay nine-months pregnant forever.

I could write an entire book on nesting. I've:
-organized every drawer, cupboard, closet in my house. (Allan says that "organized" is an insufficient description, so I will qualify by adding re-arranged, grouped, labeled, boxed, tubbed, beautified, etc)
-I've cleaned in places that have never been cleaned before (in my house, you sicko).
-I've sewn quilts and clothes and junk.
-I've literally read every book our library has on childbirth--pro-natural, pro-medicated, whatever, I read it.
-I've washed all his clothes and have them neatly folded in the dresser. Just waiting to be pooped on..
-I've bought meat almost every time I go to the grocery store, and have it waiting in the freezer.
-I've painted my toes
-I've straightened my hair almost every day for the past two weeks, just in case.
-And recently, I impulsively painted our dining room table bright red because I was desperate for a project (more photos on that later).

Anyway, so here it is. The last belly shot. It's absolutely ASTRONOMICAL, is it not?! I find that I stun even myself every time I pass a mirror. It doesn't feel that big, but when I see it I'm like "Seriously? That's me?!"