Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The end of your childhood...

Last night I had to take the trash out to the dumpster and it was pouring rain. I decided to just suck it up and go out and do it. Before I even got half way there I was drenched.
It is November...
In New England...
and it was 63 degrees...
and it was awesome.
I took my time walking back to my house in my drenched pajamas flip flops in hand and splashed through the puddles like a little girl. I will admit I giggled a few times. I felt a little sheepish as someone walked by me on the way into their building, but even that made me giggle. I almost didn't want to go back into the house, but I did. Smiling.
It made me think about how people say your childhood ends when you have children. And since I started my family so young I often hear that my childhood ended prematurely. And in a way I often feel that way myself. But I realized something last night. Having children doesn't end your childhood, but it keeps a little piece of it locked inside of you ready to come out at spontaneous moments. How many childless 25 year olds would be caught running around in puddles in their scottie dog jammie pants?
So in a way children keep a part of their parents inner child alive.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Midnight Ramblings...

Well technically it is not midnight, it is 4am and I still have not gone to bed. I can not sleep for some unknown reason. I have mom who is due to have her baby as of yesterday so I should be asleep. Today is the anniversary of my first birth as a doula. I have attended three births in the past year. Waiting on my fourth. The road to doula-hood has not gone as fast as I initially anticipated that it would, but each birth has been amazing. And I have learned so much at each of them.

  • 2 hospital births 
  • 1 homebirth (midwife didn't make it :)
  • 1 VBAC
  • 1 first time mom

I have to have 6 births to complete my doula certification. I am unsure if I want to go through with certification. The organization that I trained with, toLabor, is awesome though and not overly restricting in practice. I have never called myself a "doula in training." It just does not feel right and I do not feel like I am in training. I am just a doula. I might not be an uber experienced doula but I have a lot to bring to the situation. Ideally I would like to have 1-2 births a month. It is going to take a while to get there...

OK, enough rambling, the baby will be up in 3-4 hours. Maybe I will get lucky and he will sleep in until 10. He has done it already this week but I highly doubt that he will do it a second time.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A's Birth

 The cast...
T and K- Friends and camera crew
A- Midwife
J- Second Midwife
D- Third Midwife
L- the big sister

I'm ready. A few weeks past my "Due Date"
Early Saturday morning(3-7-09) I was woke up every hour by little contractions which I ignored because they didn't seem real. Dad took me and L out for the day and we ran some errands. While walking around BJ's the contractions were starting to be about thirty minutes apart and thirty seconds long and stopping me in my tracks. I texted A to let her know what was going on and told my dad that I felt sick and wanted to be brought home instead of going out for lunch with them. So he took me home and kept L for the night.
Trying to nap
*Contains pictures and video of actual labor and birth*

L's Birth...

At 16, it only took one night and I found myself pregnant in my sophomore year of high school. I was the first person in my high school class to be pregnant. I was an A/B student, a band geek, and a generally good kid. Thanks to the gossip mill, it was soon all around my school that I was pregnant. I was not treated well. They called me a slut and many other things in the halls. Because of this mistreatment, I switched my homeroom to the daycare center in the basement in my school that I would later use, so I could continue with high school. I had lunch down there every day so I wouldn’t have to handle the taunts in the cafeteria. 

At home, my mother supported me in my decision to keep the baby, but the rest of the family did not. They wanted me to put her up for adoption. Adoption just was not for me. His parents and my other family, besides my mother, would not let us see each other anymore. At six months pregnant, he dumped me. I was alone. I did not hear from him again until a week before my due date.

I had a healthy pregnancy with no complaints besides the standard sciatica and heartburn. But about two weeks before I was due, I stopped attending school because it was too much to handle emotionally and physically. Walking around the school was painful, yes, but I couldn’t handle being around everyone anymore. I was assigned a tutor at home so I could continue in my studies. I was in my junior year.

On my due date, November 19th, I had an ultrasound and they guessed that she was already 9lbs and that my placenta was deteriorating. The doctor said if I did not go into labor on my own I would be induced the day after Thanksgiving. Well Thanksgiving came and went so…

On Friday, I woke up at 6:30am to get ready to go to the hospital and be induced. I was 9 days overdue. I later discovered that I was closer to 20 days overdue when I did my own calculations. I had some cherry cheesecake left over from Thanksgiving dinner at Nana’s house the night before. I went to the hospital with my mother. They still made us register even though we had already pre-registered a few days ago when I went in for an NST. We finally made it upstairs where they have me put on a gown and get in bed. At 9am I get an IV and start the Pitocin, saline, and penicillin that were ice cold from the fridge. I was 2cm dilated.

The morning was fairly easy with just a little bit of cramping. We watched some talk shows, mostly the Wayne Brady Show and the Sharon Osborne Show. At 2pm I was almost 4cm and the doctor decided to break my water. Immediately after that the first contraction I received was HELL! I screamed for an epidural. They told me I had to wait until the anesthesiologist got out of surgery.

So I got a shot of nubaine to tide me over. It did nothing. I hated being stuck in bed on my back and wanted to get up and walk around but they told me I was not allowed to except to go to the bathroom. I kept pretending I had to pee just so that I could get off my back. The doctor went on her lunch break, so my nurse got the birth ball for me. We closed the door and were able to get 15 minutes on the ball, which was heaven, but the doctor came back from lunch and we couldn’t sneak it any longer.

At 4pm the anesthesiologist finally came in and gave me the epidural. He placed it in one try and it didn’t hurt, but crouching over on a table hurt more than the huge needle in my back. It kicked in after a few minutes and I was ok again. They checked me again after the epidural kicked in and I was still only 4cm. They also gave me a catheter and an internal monitor on her instead of the belt. They told me it just stuck to her head and it was only later that I found out it screwed into her head!

I had ordered dinner when I arrived just in case she arrived before dinner, but alas she didn’t and they wouldn’t let me eat it so my mom did. I had come in with another woman at 9 and we were both induced at the same time and she already had her boy around 3 that day. I wasn’t happy. I was starving and thirsty but they kept saying nothing but ice. My renegade nurse came through once again and snuck me in some Jell-O and Lipton soup.

I was still at 4cm until 10pm and the Pitocin was as high as they could allow it. Her heart rate was dropping down to the 90’s with every contraction and the doctor was getting concerned and wanted to perform a cesarean section. I refused to give consent to the surgery. She told me that the Pitocin was irritating the baby, and she couldn’t tolerate it. I told her if the Pitocin was bothering her then turn it off now. She agreed, but told me if there were any more signs of distress, or if I made no progress in an hour she would cut me anyways. At 11pm she came back in and checked me and I was 10cm!

My body had taken over and done it. I came in at 2cm, the Pitocin got me to 4cm, and I dilated to 10cm on my own! At this time the epidural had worn off so I could feel the contractions, which was good for the pushing. I didn’t want any more painkillers.

I started to push unsuccessfully for a bit, and then the vomiting arrived. It was not pretty, but luckily vomiting uses the same muscles as pushing so my pushes started to be productive. I pushed on my back, on hands and knees, and on my side anything to get her to move down.

I needed some oxygen because her heart rate was going down a little more. I was wicked hot at this point and had stripped naked. After an hour and a half of pushing, her head finally came through and I heard the doctor say get pediatrics in here now, which freaked me out. Five people came rushing in a minute later. The cord was wrapped around her neck 3 times and she had meconium all over her. She cut and clamped the cord and I pushed her shoulders out and the rest of her came sliding right out.

The doctor handed her right over to the nurses and I didn’t even get to see her. She was breathing fine and they cleaned her off and took the meconium out of her mouth. She didn’t aspirate anything. All I could see was her cute little button nose between two of the nurses. They handed her over to my mother instead of me while I was stitched for a minor tear. 

My mom fed her a bottle of formula before I was even allowed to hold her. Finally, I got to hold her and she was beautiful and I of course cried. She was born at 12:27am after 15 hours of labor, including 1.5 hours of pushing. She weighed 7.2lbs, 10 days after they estimated her to be 9lbs and was 21 inches long.

I never nursed her. My family and my doctor told me that it was not worth breastfeeding. I had to go back to school at 8 weeks postpartum. They said I might as well formula feed.  Two weeks after her birth, I sat crumpled in bed with her, crying my eyes out. I did want to nurse her but thought it was too late to try.

Teen moms may be young, but they are still mothers and deserve to be treated with the same respect and compassion that all moms deserve. I wish someone had been there to educate me when I was younger. I wish I had known what a doula was and what she does for laboring women. My mother was there with me the whole time, but she didn’t do much but watch and hold my leg.

I felt alone except for that one nurse. She was also my nurse for the next two nights stay in the hospital. She was the only person there who did not treat me as if I was a stupid child. She confided in me that she had her first child as a teenager as well, so she understood.

I graduated on time with my class. It was hard being a teen mom but I did it. I do not wish it on anybody, but the moms who are in that situation need support. Five years later, I was pregnant a second time. I had researched more so this time I had a planned homebirth with a midwife. My son was a 48-hour labor, but I would rather take his birth a million times over again than go through that hospital experience again. He was also exclusively breastfed without a drop of formula. I learned better; I did better.

Previously Posted at The Guggie Daily...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Our Breastfeeding Journey

On March 9th, 2009 my son was born at home. He was 8lb 6oz and 21inches. I did not breastfeed my daughter and was determined to try this time. About an hour after birth when things were all settled down one of my midwives helped us to latch on. He nursed very well while everyone else was cleaning up. After everyone left and we went to bed, I could not get him to nurse. When my friends woke up they tried to help but no luck. He would not even try. Through out the day we kept on trying with no luck. I called my midwife and she suggested pumping after trying and to syringe feed him. She would be visiting later at night. She came and could not get him to nurse either. We defrosted some frozen colostrum I had pumped during pregnancy and we syringe fed him that. In the morning I called the pediatrician to make an appointment to get him checked out.
(This post contains many images of a human baby nursing)

Saturday, August 6, 2011


In the United States of America circumcision is a cosmetic procedure that the New York Times shows is still performed on 32.5% of infant boys soon after birth. The rates of circumcision have declined drastically in the past decade, but this is still 32.5% too much. The circumcision of females is illegal in the US, and the same right should be afforded to all males born here as well. Routine infant circumcision is a violation of basic human rights and is a medically and spiritually unnecessary cosmetic surgery.
The foreskin is a fully functioning organ. It is also known by another name, the prepuce. In the documentary, CUT: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision, it is noted that a man's sexual life without the prepuce may still be great -- but it is as though his sexuality is an orchestra missing the entire strings section. The music just isn't the same. It cannot be. The #1 organ necessary for full functioning was taken from him. Men (and women) ought to have their full 'orchestra' intact. It has a purpose in infancy as well as adulthood. As a child the foreskin protects the developing penis on the infant. At birth it is fused to the head of the penis, and protects it from infections and physical harm. The foreskin allows urine to pass through and that is all. As the child matures, it slowly is able to retract on its own by the end of puberty. The child has no use of it for sexual function until it reaches adulthood. It is perfectly designed.
Many parents circumcise their children because they believe that is what is best for them. However according to many doctors including the Doctors Sears, circumcision is not medically necessary. Many people believe that circumcision can help prevent the transmission STDs like HIV. The fact is the only two real preventions of these diseases are the use of condoms and even more so abstinence.  One other medical reason many believe the surgery protects from is penile cancer. This cancer is very rare and according to it is even rarer than male breast cancer. Penile cancer amounts to <1,200 cases a year, while Breast cancer is approximately 1,400 cases a year. There are many other medical reasons once believed to be beneficial. However even if any of these were in fact true, modern medicine has come a long way in treating most infections. Preventative amputation surgery is now a primitive measure when we can treat a simple infection with antibiotics and cleanliness.
Every human has the right to bodily integrity. God created our bodies in his image. He made no mistakes; everything on our body has a purpose. Some people are born with deformities, or an absence of something that is normally there, but even that has a purpose that only God knows.  We were given agency over these bodies to use wisely and protect. By performing cosmetic surgery on a child we are saying that Gods plan for the human body is in some way defective. With this agency that we have been given, we can choose to modify our own bodies, but should not the bodies of other non-consenting individuals. If the child chooses to modify their own body when they get older, that is within their own agency to do so but not the parents.
The church has no official stance on circumcision but according to Robert J. Matthews in “A Crisis, a Council, and Inspired Leadership”
“In like manner today, there may be questions on which the doctrinal foundation is clear but on which tradition or custom are so strong that the Brethren are impressed not to take a firmer stand, trusting, as did Church leaders in New Testament times, that if the basic revealed principles are known, the Holy Ghost  will eventually lead the adherents to forsake their tradition, or academic popularity, or peer pressure in favor of the word of God.”
It is up to the people to make their own informed decision through careful research and pray. The church cannot tell us everything that we should and should not do. We need to use out agency to make these decisions.  Moroni 8:8 says “ the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me…”  Christ’s ultimate sacrifice fulfilled the Law of Moses, and circumcision is no longer required.
            Every parent does what they believe is best for their child. When we know better, we do better. Modern day parents are learning that there are no benefits to routine infant circumcision. This is seen by the decreased rate shown in The New York Times from 56% in 2006 to 32.5% in 2009. There are no medical benefits or religious reasons for Christians. Circumcision is a violation of the child’s basic rights to choose what to do with their own body.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Birth Changes Lives

I started my journey into motherhood at a young age. I was only sixteen when a single night resulted in my getting pregnant. I was alone and knew nothing about what was about to happen to me. I went along with everything my obstetrician recommended or told me to do. It was an easy uneventful pregnancy health wise. The big day arrived and I had labor induced on me and my unborn child. I was strapped into bed by monitors and wires, and told that I could not get up. I was treated as less than human, like I did not matter. I am sure that my age had something to do with the treatment that I received that day. 
Towards the end of my labor, I was informed by the doctor that I would need a cesarean section to remove my baby from me. Something deep inside me crawled to the surface and I finally stood up for myself and my unborn child. I refused to consent to the surgery. The doctor begrudgingly gave me another hour. Finally having found my inner strength, my body finished laboring on its own without medication and I birthed my baby. The mother within me was born in the moment my daughter was born. Even at 17, I was a mother, forever changed by what we just experienced together.
It took a few years for me to emotionally process the experience of my daughter’s birth. I was entrenched into life as a teen mother and graduating from school as an honor student. When I did start to process the birth, I realized that something was wrong. That is not what birth should be like. I do not think that God envisioned his prized daughters to be treated like scum while they brought more of his precious spirits into the world. I knew that there had to be a better option out there for childbirth. I am a smart woman. I put my trust into a trained surgeon for a natural process. It was not going to happen to me again.
Using mostly the internet to kick of my search, I started to learn more. Google became my new cyber friend. We spent a lot of time together. I learned about natural childbirth and that it wasn’t what the media had portrayed it as. It is a natural and beautiful process. Instead of watching shows on television, I began to watch internet videos on Youtube and saw women giving birth the way nature intended. I learned that homebirth did still exist. Before my research I thought that it was an extinct practice. I knew of no one who had a homebirth in this half of the century.
Five years after my first child was born, I was pregnant with my second child. I was still young at 22, and still alone, but I was armed with information this time. I hired a homebirth midwife soon after I discovered that I was pregnant. I really hit it off with her. It was a perfect match. The pregnancy was mostly uneventful except for a few obstacles along the way. I was an active participant in my prenatal care this time around. I asked questions and did my own research when things arose. My care was a complete opposite of what I experienced the first time.
Almost three weeks after the estimated due date, I went into labor on my own. It was a long emotionally and physically trying labor. I was surrounded by women who trusted my body to birth this baby. I was free to move around and do what I felt was necessary. I called all of the shots this time. After 48 hours of labor I birthed my second child, a son, in my own home on my own bed. It was awesome, in the true sense of the word. I was truly in awe of what just happened. I did it! I am not some super woman because I was able to give birth naturally. I am just a woman doing women’s work like they’ve been doing for thousands of years.
My experiences have changed me. It took me birthing my son to be able to fully heal from my first experience. However, I do not think that I would want my daughter’s birth to happen any differently than it did. Having that experience is the catalyst for the rest of my story. It triggered me to learn more, and to educate myself. I think without it I would not be where I am today. I am now studying to be a midwife. I am a birth doula, a certified labor coach. I am with women during their pregnancy journey, birth, and postpartum period. I help them to educate themselves. I have seen both the ugly and amazing sides of birth. I feel that this makes me a better advocate for women and my clients. I have more compassion for them, and understanding of the medical field. Birth is amazing. It creates new lives, new little bodies for spirits to live in. It also creates mothers and families.

Human Milk for Human Babies

Breastfeeding and breast milk are the number one choice for feeding human babies. There is no denying that for all babies, except the rare few with metabolic disorders that cause them to not digest human milk, it is the right way to nourish an infant.  For some mothers, either temporarily or long term, additional supplementation is necessary.  Approximately 3% of mothers cannot provide enough breast milk for their infants; in these cases donor breast milk is the optimal choice over formula for supplementation.
Breast milk is sometimes referred to as “liquid gold.” While its colour is generally a lovely yellow, its value is what people are referring to. It has the exact nutrition for the human infant to thrive with perfectly balanced proteins, carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients.  The components of breast milk are easily digested and have a higher bioavailability over those found in other sources. According to Dr. Sears, formula contains a higher level of iron than breast milk, but only 4% of the iron is absorbed by the infant compared to the 50-75% of iron absorbed from breast milk.
Formula is a factory made processed food product. It is made from cow’s milk, soybeans, corn and chemical vitamins and minerals.  The manufacturers are trying to mimic human milk when they make this product, and because it is made in a factory there is always room for human error. There have been many recalls of formula in recent years. Similac was one of these recalls. They had to recall their product because there were bugs and bug parts in the powdered infant formula.  Formula should be used as a last resort for feeding the human infant. According to the World Health Organization the first choice for feeding an infant should be milk from the mother’s breast.  The second choice is expressed milk from the infant’s mother fed another way. The third choice is breast milk from another mother. And finally the fourth choice is artificial baby milk.
Emma Kwasnica, the founder of Human Milk for Human Babies (HM4HB,) has stated that “Breast milk is not a scarce commodity. It's a free-flowing resource, and we were dumping it down the drain.”  She created HM4HB to connect families around the world with excess breast milk to those who had babies in need. Before the creation of formula, if a mother was not able to feed her baby a wet nurse was used.  In absolute dire need the milk of another animal was used. HM4HB is the modern day version of wet nursing. Mothers who milk share are well informed. They know the risks and benefits of sharing breast milk. Babies benefit from the donor milk by receiving the best nutrition they can get from the situation that they have.
I have personal experience on both sides of milk sharing. When my son was a few months old I had some excess milk. I shared this milk with a mother of a newborn who has having some minor difficulties getting started. Later on I developed a hormonal imbalance that affected my milk supply. I was only producing about half of what my son needed. Through the help of two other lactating mothers, I was able to successfully breast milk feed my son. We were donated over 1,200 ounces. My son was able to thrive thanks to these women.
Heavenly Father created a woman’s body with breasts so that she could nourish and nurture her babies. He perfectly designed breast milk to nourish the human infant. For the approximately 3% of mothers who cannot feed their babies their own breast milk, this perfectly designed food should be used when at all possible. He designed human milk for human babies, and cow’s milk for calves.