Checking In

It’s been a while since I have written, I know.

When I give birth, I like to take a significant break.  For my last two post partum periods, I have done a 40 day babymoon where I don’t even leave my bedroom for the first 40 days after giving birth.  After that, I go downstairs as I want to, and play going outdoors by ear.  This makes for an invaluable time of recovery, healing, and getting to know my new baby, not to mention getting much needed rest.  My last 3 babies have all slept well at night but because they still wake up to be nursed and changed, my sleep is still broken. This means I am often super tired and anyone who knows me, knows how I cherish my sleep.

Weeks before I gave birth, I started to get really emotional about giving birth because some part of me knew and remembered that once I did, it would be a while before I saw anyone. I made myself feel better with ideas of having company over after I gave birth, but I forgot, I am not a fan of company after giving birth for my birth clients that I attend.  It’s just not the best time to entertain guests.

I always stress to my clients that even I don’t need to come over if they are not up for company and I personally have strict rules (as a birth worker) about snuggling someone else’s newborn.  There’s so much that happens after giving birth- after birth pains, trying to establish breastfeeding, healing from the birth itself, raw emotions, aches and pains that linger, and being exhausted. I personally do not care for an audience during that time.  It’s not the easiest thing for me to do, as I love people.  Also, I like things to be done a certain way, and during this time, I have to take things in stride as my family, when serving me, may do things a bit differently. Even still, taking this time does me a world of good.

It kind of reminds me of how Jesus would steal away for periods to just be with the Father.  I use this time for that too.  It’s me, my Abba, my husband, and children.  It’s about stepping away and getting in the rhythm of my new normal and so much more.

This time around, as bouts of the “baby blues” hit, I started to make even that enjoyable.  As ridiculous, negative thoughts swirled about in my head, I began to thank God for the opposite and continue to make declarations along those (positive) lines, over my life.  I have been resting as needed, whenever it hits me to do so.  I’m also reading one book and listening to another and enjoying both.  I have written out a list of goals.  There are some things that I want to focus on and accomplish now that my son is here.  And my new son? I don’t even have the words…  Suffice it to say that we are all enjoying him more than I can say.

I just wanted to write something to you, my dear reader.  I have started several blog posts during this time that I just didn’t complete for one reason or another but I wanted to let you know that I am well and will be back in the swing of things in a few more weeks.  In the meantime, I’m just enjoying this period all of my birth nerd sisters and I call the “babymoon”.

 

How I Go Through Trials-Keyword-Through

As long as you are alive, you will go through things in life.  Sometimes you’ll go through difficult things, sometimes, not so difficult.  How you respond in those times is a very telling testament to who you truly are inside.

I’m learning to see these times that God has allowed in my life as times of opportunity for growth and development.  God can and does use everything to help us to grow in Him so that He can trust us with the destiny and calling He has placed on our lives.  Graham Cooke says God allows us to go through tests, and He never fails us.  He just allows us to take the test again and again until we pass. 0_o Yikes!!

I am allowing myself during the trial I am in now, to grieve as needed and do what I need to do along that vein, but I don’t just stop there and wallow.  Oftentimes, when we go through difficult times, we feel alone.  Part of the reason is because we shut ourselves off from the rest of the world and God.  We tend to put all our energy and focus into ourselves- feeling bad, feeling sorry, feeling betrayed, hurt, or whatever other negative aspects we can focus on.  The truth is, even then, we are not alone. We are always surrounded.  I challenge you to look for God during trials.  He is not hiding at all.  It’s amazing.  It has become fun to look for and find Him and His handwork over and over and over, even as I cry.

When I consider my losses, especially the last 5 I have endured since August, I allow myself to get excited for 3 reasons.  1. When I get to Heaven, this won’t matter. 2. When I get to Heaven, I will never be a part from these children ever again.  3. I get to have them all!!  These were pregnancies that overlapped.  Outside of being pregnant with quintuplets, I could never have had all 5 of them here on Earth but in Heaven, I get them all!! Whoo hoo!!!

A key for me during these times has been to keep going.  I keep right on loving, serving, giving and helping others.  When someone sends me a message asking for prayer for something, I don’t turn it into something about me and what I’m going through, I just pray for them as I would for myself and keep moving.  It has become a wonderful habit.  I love how I am now allowing the attacks of the enemy to push me right into the arms of my Abba.  I am worshiping Him and abiding in Him like never before and it is so good!!  I see God all over the whole situation as He pours into me during our quiet times and He uses people to shower me with a love that I had never known possible.  I have gotten prophetic words for strangers as I am out in the midst of this trial.  I’ve gotten word that some of my recent words of prophecy are coming to pass right now!  I’ve gotten flowers, money, a free painting session with my artist friend, free dinner and such an outpouring of love and support that I would be flat out lying to say that I feel like I am alone.  I am surrounded!!  As I freely receive all this love, I can’t help but continue to give it out.  I am excited to see what’s next!

So keep moving, keep going, don’t just sit and wallow when you go through trials in life.  If you feel like you don’t have people supporting or loving you, go out of your way and do what you would want, for someone else.  I guarantee, you will see a return on it in more ways than one.  Don’t make everything all about you.  Get up and do something for someone else.  You aren’t the only one going through something.  We need each other and while so many are waiting for God to do something, He is just waiting for us to move. So, move!! Go though this trial and pass that test! You can do it!  You have the entire Hosts of Heaven rooting for you!

 

Grace to Enjoy, Grace to Endure

You don’t have any idea how much you can endure in life or what you are capable of accomplishing when you have an intimate relationship with God. Like Graham Cooke said, we have grace available to us each day- grace to enjoy what is happening and grace to endure what is happening.

I have done things this weekend with such a strength that I *know* there is no way I can take even a gram of credit for it. I simply made a decision, and my Abba totally carried me, then, my family by blood and The Blood, my tribe, people I can’t imagine living without, came alongside Him and carried me too. I am broken and fulfilled. Heart broken but so happy. I cry the heart-wrenching tears of a mother of many but I belly laugh and mean it with all my heart.

I have lost yet another baby this weekend.  It’s like I am filling Heaven with children.  This weekend was the weekend of what has become a favorite for me- the prophetic retreat.  I was charged with leading worship on Friday night with my oldest daughter and my spiritual father Russ.  I was also given the opportunity to lead a workshop.  Pastor Gary called me saying God showed him a vision of me leading a workshop on prophetic parenting.  What was hilarious was that he also said that he had no idea what that entailed, lol, so it was like, “This is what God showed me.  I have no insight for you on this. Are you in?” Without hesitation, I was so in.  🙂

I am growing to love these moments.  When God nudges me to do something I don’t know how to do or can’t do in my own strength, I simply yield to Holy Spirit, trust and move forward and amazing things happen.  After realizing I was losing my baby, I was of course told that I didn’t have to do anything I wasn’t able to do but with God to lean on, I did it!!  Philippians 4:13 means more to me now than ever before.

I cannot cry and sing, but with God’s strength holding me up, I was able to move forward and worship Him in the midst of my pain, physically and emotionally.  In the beginning, I simply swayed to the music to ease the lower back pain that comes with what I call the mini labor of miscarriage.  As I sang to my Abba, I felt like I was caught up in a swirl of color and love.  There was so much peace there.  The pain of my mini labor vanished in that moment and it was just me and Him. Bliss.

Then, I was able to do it again the next day.  We led worship and it was amazing.  I was able to sing prophetically over everyone and although I have no idea what I said other than remembering singing the word “abide”,  it is an amazing testament to what God can do when we simply yield to Him.  He takes care of it all.  In one moment, I sang strongly and prophetically over the crowd and in the next, I sat on Mama Robin’s lap, as she held me in her arms and I released what I hadn’t yet been able to.  I cried and sobbed and was probably super loud but I did not and do not care.  For me, this is huge.  It was a breakthrough moment that was so important and necessary.

Then I went on to lead two workshops on prophetic parenting.  That too was good.  Again, something that I didn’t know how to do, was done beautifully, with God’s help.When we come to the end of ourselves, He is just getting started. Brokenness is a good place to be in with Him.  A great place.  It’s where the best yielding and trusting can take place.  It’s the place of miracles.  It’s where the supernatural abounds.

Then,  the retreat was over.  I purposefully left without saying goodbye to anyone as I knew I would breakdown and cry.  I just lingered a bit and then left.  We stopped at a store on the way home and while in line, I looked at a young mother and God began to speak to me about her.  She was overwhelmed at times and not sure she was up to the task ahead of her.  She was with her mother in law, infant son and husband.  I looked for a way to speak with her privately and then laughed and said to my Abba, “Look at me, Abba.  I’m still hesitating aren’t I?”  He said nothing.  I said, “Ok, I’m gonna do it, you know I will.  I just don’t know how to do this.  How do I do this?”  He said, “You put one foot in front of the other…”  I laughed out loud and did it.

 

Top 11 Ways to Have An Unnecesarean

Just itching to have that totally unnecessary cesarean?  Here are some tips to help you get there! Here’s my version of some of the top ways to have an unnecessary cesarean.

11. Pick a caregiver, any caregiver! Better yet, choose a “lottery” practice where you get lots  of different providers.  That way when you go into labor, you won’t have a clue who’ll attend you thus increasing your chances of having one who couldn’t care less about what you thought you wanted for your birth.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get one with very high epidural, episiotomy and cesarean rates.  Cross your fingers!

10. Only take hospital sponsored childbirth classes! If you must take a class, go with the one the hospital provides.  That way you’ll learn how to be a good patient and take what they give ya with a smile- after all, “you don’t know nothin’ bout birthin’ no baby!”

9. Stay away from doulas!! Hiring a doula can totally screw up your chances of getting that unnecesarean.   You may end up with a shorter labor and  mess around and have a completely unmedicated vaginal birth.  You’ve been warned!!!

8. Agree to an induction! Don’t even ask if it’s medically necessary-  it doesn’t matter. Lots of people like things a little “undercooked” right?  Plus, your family members can’t wait to meet this new little one!  Don’t deprive them of another day without that sweet wittle schnukums!

7. Go to the hospital as soon as you think labor has begun! Think your water has broken?  Felt a small uncomfortable tinge in your lower back?  Freak out and run, to the hospital!  That way they can get a definite and  early start on the cascade of interventions that are almost guaranteed to get you a ticket on the cesarean express!  All aboard!

6. Say yes to Pitocin! Who ever figured out that this medication originally made for stomach ulcers would induce contractions in pregnant women is a genius!  Not only does it make contractions stronger and longer, your body’s ability to produce oxytocin (which also provides endorphin-like relief along with contractions) is totally inhibited and you’ll be crawling the walls in no time (if you can find the strength).  You’ll hurt so bad you’ll beg for an epidural and be that much closer to getting that unnecesarean!

5. Get an epidural! This is as important as getting pitocin.  You want to be completely immobilized so that labor can have a chance at stalling. If this doesn’t work perhaps it can help you when it’s time to push.  Everyone will scream, “Push!” because it’s “time” and you may not be able to cause you can’t feel a thing!

4. Get an amniotomy as soon as possible! What better way to be whisked away for that cesarean!  The possibility of cord prolapse is increased and the dr can then “save” the baby and be a hero!

3. Don’t eat or drink during labor. Why nourish your body at a time like this? Nah! Starve yourself and the baby, that way you’ll tire quickly and easily.  Remember the goal!

2. Accept a “failure to progress” diagnosis! Now come on, have a heart!  Your provider needs to go home for dinner with friends and family.  He/she shouldn’t have to wait until you finally decide to actually have this baby on your own.  Really, that could take a long time!

1. Just ask! Don’t beat around the bush, just ask for one. You’ll be happy to know that a lot of doctors will happily make your wishes come true!

Disclaimer: One can pretty much come to the conclusion that I’m being completely and thoroughly sarcastic and don’t at all believe any of the above is the best way to safely give birth.  Epidurals and episiotomies have their place but when used routinely, disastrous results can occur.

Please people, inform yourselves.  Arm yourselves with knowledge!

A Few Sweet Breastfeeding Facts

After birth, the areola is darkened and serves as a sort of target for baby.  It is said that babies see black and white best just after birth.  Darkened areolas help baby locate the breast in order to latch on and nurse.

Babies who are born naturally with no drugs, left to lie skin to skin on mom will crawl up their mom’s belly to nurse.  The areola is darkened as easily seen and it emits a hormone that smells like amniotic fluid.  This attracts baby to the breast and naturally encourages breastfeeding.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3K87l9hNOE

The crawl of the baby heading for the breast and latching on to nurse causes oxytocin to produce and helps the mother expel the placenta naturally.

After birth if baby has a fever, instead of putting the baby under heated lamps, give the baby to mom.  She has transmitters on her chest and stomach that can regulate the baby’s temperature.  Very simple, just let the baby lie on mom.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics one should breastfeed their baby at least one year and then as long as parent and child are happy. http://www.thelaboroflove.com/articles/how-long-should-i-breastfeed-my-toddler/

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding at least 2 years.  It is not uncommon to find in other parts of the world a child 3 or 4 still nursing.  There is still nutritional value to be gained by the child even in toddlerhood. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/When_is_a_child_too_old_to_breast_feedie

There are unique and powerful immune building properties  in breastmilk.  The milk is sweet (yeah, I’ve tasted my milk) and it changes to meet the needs of the baby at every turn.  If mom gets sick, her milk’s composition changes to provide immunity to baby, making it less likely that the baby will get sick.   If the baby does get sick it’s often a far milder version of what the mother has contracted.

There are many medications that can still be taken while breastfeeding. Sometimes, things happen where you must take antibiotics or other medication.  Because a lot of health care professionals don’t know the effects certain medicines have on breastmilk, they err towards caution and suggest you stop breastfeeding.    This is  not always necessary.  The fact is, many medications are perfectly fine to take while breastfeeding.  See

http://www.llli.org/FAQ/medications.html  This article includes several links to more information about medication and breastfeeding.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season!

Perceptions of Birth II

I wasn’t able to do this last week as we were preparing for my book signing in DC- which was wonderful by the way.

So here’s part 2 to Perceptions of Birth.

Here are the results of the poll:

75% replied, ” I can do this! (even though I’m a little scared)”.

12.5% replied, “Scared Stiff!”.

And the last 12.5% replied, “(Smile) Beautiful! “.

While birth is hands down an amazingly beautiful thing, it can be scary as well.  I remember feeling afraid as I neared the end of each pregnancy. I’d be excited and happy, ready to meet this new individual and then the reality that the baby had to come out of my body would hit me like a ton of bricks.

This fear is very common.  So what do you do with it?

I suggest speaking with a person who knows a thing or two about birth- not someone well versed in crises but normal birth.  Someone who has done it before and had success.  A doula is another great option.

There’s no reason to allow that fear to grip you and cause you to doubt your body works.  Our bodies are amazing.  We have yet to understand all the intricacies involved in our everyday functions.  We do so much without even thinking of what can go wrong- birth doesn’t have to be any different. 

Think about it.  Do you have doctors and loved ones standing by ready to take action just in case you have a heart attack?  It could happen depending on your lifestyle but you’re probably not sitting around expecting that it will happen.  Why isn’t it the same with birth?  Why do we automatically focus on what could go wrong?

 Going to the bathroom, do you have a team on call just in case something goes wrong?  Nope.  It’s a completely natural physiological process and while something could go wrong, again, you’re not consumed with that possibility.  The reason is,  you know that your body works and you trust that it’ll be fine.  So, with a body that does everything else correctly, why is it that when birth is in the picture our bodies suddenly seem so deficient?  I believe it comes from many different places.  The media is horrible in how it portrays birth.  Then there’s family and friends with their horror stories.  And, all too often, our care providers can scare us with all the testing for problems.  Obstetricians are trained to deal with the problems that arise, a lot of them know very little about the normal (mostly boring and uneventful) side of birth.  They are looking for the problems that can arise and you can get caught up in the mix of it all.

My suggestion to you is to find out what your perceptions of birth are and where they come from.  Are they rational?  Are they even yours or have they been passed on to you by others?  What kind of tales do you pass on to others regarding birth, without even thinking about it?  It’s something worth considering.

Have a great week!

Perceptions of Birth

When you think of birth, what comes to mind?  Do you think happy thoughts?  Or are your thoughts closer to the anxious side of the spectrum?  Do you know where these thoughts came from?  Are they yours because of an experience or perhaps something you’ve heard or seen -be it on television or in person?  Next week, we’ll explore your thoughts a little deeper.  Happy Polling!

All About Doulas!

Doula supporting Patrice through contracton
Doula supporting Patrice through contracton

So, what exactly is a doula? 

First lets go over what a doula is not.  A doula is not a doctor, or midwife.  A doula does not perform any clinical or medical procedures- period.

A doula (pronounced doo-la) is an experienced, non clinical assistant, who provides physical, emotional and informed choice support for women in prenatal care, during childbirth and the post partum period.  As a birth doula, I offer continuous care for labor in many settings attending home births, birth center and hospital births.

I am there to support pregnant women in having the kind of birth they want.  I don’t try and force my ideals on a client.  I inform her and support her with her decisions.

There are two types of doulas.  There’s a birth doula (as described above) and the post partum doula.

The post partum doula assists women and their families in settling into parenthood.  I recently received a call about a woman who just had her first child a few weeks prior.  She was having trouble with breastfeeding, didn’t have family nearby who could help her out, her husband had to return to work and she was having a rough time adjusting. This is where post partum doulas are invaluable.  They will come into your home and help you whether it’s with breastfeeding, taking care of baby while you nap, or taking care of other kids or even walking the dog while you rest.  She can also do a few chores, maybe some shopping, heating up food and more. 

There are doulas that are certified and some that choose not to become certified.  Because there is no governing organization over all doulas, certifying is completely up to each individual. Because a doula is certified doesn’t necessarily mean she’s better equipped and/or experienced.  It just means that she’s signed up with one of the many certifying programs available and has completed their requirements in becoming certified.  She attended workshops, read books, took exams, etc.  You can have a certified doula who has only attended 1-5 births and an un-certified doula who has attended 60+ births.

So how do you choose?  Being a doula is a “heart” issue.  Like choosing any care provider, one should choose a person with whom they connect.  If a prospective doula gives you the heebie jeebies, you shouldn’t hire them.  There’s a match out there.  You may meet and interview two completely different doulas.  You may want to go with the more experienced doula but really connect with the doula with only 1 birth under her belt.  They may or may not be certified but  think about it- every doula has to start somewhere.

How much are doulas?  Well for one, It depends on where you live.  Birth doulas can range anywhere from $200-$1000.  I’ve even heard of a doula who charges $1500.  It depends on a few variables- location, experience and sometimes when a doula is certifying, she must document her first few births. In this case, she may do her first few births at a deeply discounted rate in exchange for having her paperwork completed by the client.  There are many doulas who will do “Karma” or “Pro Bono” births as well.  Many are willing to do payment plans and will give breaks to those who truly can’t afford them but need the support.

So, that’s doulas in a nutshell.  It used to be that this type of care was automatic.  Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins and friends would step up to help a new mom whether it was her first or fifth child.  Unfortunately this is no longer the case.  But- there is a growing number of amazing women who are trained to help. 

Here’s a few ways to find doulas near you:

http://www.dona.org

http://www.findadoulatoday.com

http://www.doulafinder.com