So your friend has past her due date

As a mother who is currently past her due date this subject is a bit intimate for me, but I’d like to share some helpful guidelines for interacting with a mother who has past her due date.  I’d also like to state that these are guidelines, not rules and different women will respond in different ways, be sensitive to her and her needs, and if you perceive that she didn’t like what you said or did change your tactic… I’d also like to say that I’m completely guilty of doing some of the things that bother me the most to other women, one of which just had her baby not long ago, and though I’m not positive that what I said made her upset, I believe it did, so I’m not perfect, don’t expect that you will be either.

Scenario:  Your friend/acquaintance/person you know from church or the office is expecting a baby, her due date is coming up and you are excited about the upcoming birth.

Suggestions:

  1. Don’t text her every day, you won’t be the last person to hear about the birth of her sweet bundle of joy, and even if you are, is it going to hurt you that much to hear about it last? Think of all the text messages she is receiving daily asking her how she is, or how much longer, or whatnot… I promise more than 1 text a day from anyone (including if it isn’t even the same person texting every day) is going to eventually annoy her, no matter how much excitement she has to update everyone.
  2. If you really can’t contain yourself, and want to see her, ask if you can come for a visit and bring her favorite snack.  Personally if someone showed up with chocolates at my door I’d be more than happy to let them in and chat with me awhile.  And you don’t even have to chat about the baby or the upcoming birth because you will see first hand whether she is in labor or not because you are in her presence.
  3. While you visit, do something helpful.  My midwife’s apprentice came over last weekend and helped me clean my whole house (well the parts that people could see). She did this knowing that whenever my baby decided to arrive I would not be up to cleaning up the mess of my household and the cleaner it was before the birth, the less work it would be for me after the birth.  SO HELPFUL!  And after we finished I really felt like I could relax.
  4. Once your friend has past her due date do NOT ask her when she is going to be induced.  Even if she were planning induction, this is not really something women want to go through.  We don’t dream of the day we are induced… we dream of the day we will wake up to contractions.  Also, asking when her induction is, sort of insinuates that her body is broken, when in fact it is perfectly in order, that baby doesn’t need to be told when to be born, it will come when it is ready, and passing a due date doesn’t indicate that a baby is ready to be born, it only indicates that the time is getting shorter before the birth will occur.
  5. Mommy’s medical background is for professionals only. Everyone loves to share their birth stories, but no one really needs to know how many centimeters mamma was dilated at her last appointment, or whether she has lost her mucus plug.  I promise if she wants to give you that information she will gladly do so without your questions, it’s kind of the nature of things.
  6. Try talking about non baby related things.  For the woman whose mind is always on the question of ‘when will I deliver this baby’, other topics are actually pretty welcome, though hard to focus on at times.  My favorite time lately is when my midwife and her assistant come to my home for a prenatal appointment… why?  because for at least 20 minutes if not longer we talk about things that have NOTHING to do with when I will go into labor, or the health or wellness of the baby inside of me… for a short time during those visits I’m not simply a vessel about to spill a baby out, I’m a person with interests and activities that don’t all revolve around the child within me.
  7. Invite but don’t expect her to come to things.  Last week I was swamped with things I was invited to, I really wanted at some points to just say “nope, sorry, I need to rest” but the things all pertained to my other children and I wanted them to enjoy those things.. but I was actually pretty happy to be done with all the fun obligations and just chill out at home yesterday, and I’m looking forward to it again today.  However, if all my friends decided that I was too close to the birth of my baby to come to any of their activities and stopped inviting me I’d be pretty lonely and stuck in my own thoughts sitting at home ALL the time…. so please, invite her, but if she doesn’t come because she is too tired, don’t sweat it, she’ll come when she can.

Scenario:  Your friend is close or past her due date and has had prodomal labor (labor that feels like labor, but doesn’t produce a baby).

  1. She is EXHAUSTED from the work her body has been doing, and her mental state is probably not all that great.  I realize you want to be sweet and supportive, but the more times she hears “soon” or other comments similar to that the more she is going to want to shut herself off from the world and hide and you won’t hear from her again.
  2. Offer to babysit the other kids so she can have a nap.  I had a night that I couldn’t sleep at all, then started having contractions through a storm which seemed only to make things more intense and then once the storm ended it all went away, and didn’t return.  However my sleepless night left me so exhausted I had to call my husband home from work, partly because the storm was so bad and I didn’t want him driving crazy fast to get home if things turned out to be the real deal and partly because I couldn’t really handle the older children like at all.  He came home, brought the kids and I something to eat and sat with them in the living room while I enjoyed a 2 hour nap.  It was amazing!
  3. Don’t ask about what happened, or suggest that it ‘wasn’t time yet’.  She knows it wasn’t time, obviously her body didn’t push a child out of itself, and the details may be something she is still processing.  She will probably volunteer the information if she needs to process out loud, but otherwise telling another person the disappointing news is just really frustrating, and EVERYONE wants to know… so she’s likely already given the story to several people.  Be available to listen though, cause she may need it…

That’s it… you alone are not annoying her (most likely) however a lot of people all wanting the same update are going to drive her nuts.  This process is normal, and natural, and a pregnancy can be on average 42 weeks.. that means some women can not only pass their 40 week mark (that magical due date) but also pass the 42 week mark and her baby and her body will be just fine.  You were not asking her for signs of the birth at 34 weeks, so don’t bother her with it at 39-40 weeks either.. she has NO control over when it happens. But you can be available to help her out and love on her like a friend does… either from a distance, or in her home with snacks and a helping hand.

Have a Cherished Birth

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Loving my Neighbor

Luke 10:27

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Recently in a friendly debate about the differences in what is acceptable to some demographics as opposed to others, I was told my ideas were dangerous.

My ideas are grounded in the bible verse that I’ve copied above.  But I feel like in our ultra political world I have to explain this verse, and how I interpret it, and how I believe that it was actually meant to be interpreted.

If I believe that peanut butter sandwiches are amazing and that I should eat one every day, then that is my belief about myself (truly it isn’t, though some of my children would love nothing more).

Some people would interpret this verse as saying that in my own love for peanut butter sandwiches I should give peanut butter sandwiches to everyone, but I challenge anyone who believes this interpretation. Simply because I love peanut butter sandwiches doesn’t mean everyone loves them, and it certainly doesn’t mean everyone should have one.  Some people have allergies and could die from my peanut butter sandwiches, so this can’t possibly be the meaning of the verse.

Instead, I believe the verse is saying that I should pay attention to the needs of others in the same way that I pay attention to my own needs.  If I love peanut butter sandwiches, and want to eat one every day, a loving act from someone else would be them giving me a peanut butter sandwich.  So if I love others, the way I love myself I would find something they love and offer that to them, not what I love, but rather what they love.

I should also then consider what is safe for others in the way that I consider what is safe for myself.  If I have an allergy I avoid that thing I am allergic to,  if I love you I will help you avoid what you are allergic to.  If I care about myself then I will research the things that can negatively change my health, if I care about you, I should share the knowledge I have gained that might negatively or positively change your health.

All of this applies to my work as a doula, and eventually a midwife… (because I do one day intend to be a midwife).  In this realm I need to be aware of the needs of my clients, they are my neighbors.  If I am serving a woman I need to know about her race, her history, her fears, her allergies, her passions, her hopes… and I need to treat her accordingly.

There is a problem in our country that pertains to black women being 4x’s more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and white women are slightly more likely than Mexican or Asian women, and somewhere between the white and black women the American Indian women fall into the line up.

I see so many articles posted on social media about this very thing, and many of my birth working friends and colleges are very concerned about this issue.  I however do not believe that this is a racial discrimination issue, but rather an issue of health, and choice.  I’m sure that I’m going to hear some backlash about posting this, but each of us have a responsibility to love ourselves, and in doing so we need to care for ourselves.  Part of caring for yourself is knowing your risk, and advocating for yourself, and you can do this in part by educating yourself, and by hiring a team of people who support you in the needs YOU have.

Whatever your demographic, you should know your personal risks.  Some of these risks that I’ve been looking into recently are specifically for black women.  Black women are more at risk of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), and thrombotic pulmonary embolism, than white women (these are just two of the many things we should be aware of when we consider the difference in women’s risks based on race).  We can’t ignore this, it would be dangerous, but what can we do?

We can love each other as ourselves, and in doing so we can advocate for each other in the areas of health that would help us all to be and remain safe during and after pregnancy.

This doesn’t have to be a racial discrimination conversation, it can be people, loving each other and understanding the risks that we each carry, while helping each other to achieve healthy pregnancies, births, and beyond.  And there is no fear in love.  No one, regardless of race should feel that they have to single themselves out or blend into the crowd in order to receive fair treatment from others.  Getting excellent health care should have no baring on the color of our skin, and most often probably doesn’t… however, we do need to see the differences that are inside of each other, the individual preferences, allergies, and risks that belong to us, that are a part of our personal story, that will have the power of life and death over us. These things should be recognized, and treated as important for each individual, because we love.

Personal story here; I was at risk of having a cord prolapse with my second child, everyone of my care providers knew this and they wanted to break my water anyway. In an effort to evaluate my risks I asked about my ‘personal’ risk, the answer that I received was inadequate to say the least.  The care I received during that pregnancy was disrespectful and void of love, the kind of love I’m asking anyone who reads this to desplay.  Find out your personal risk, and only let people who understand these risks and want to help, be around while you labor.  You have the power to choose people who will advocate for you, before anything adverse happens, and in the event that it does happen you will be prepared to deal with it, and have people in your corner who know your risks and desires.

As for me.  I promise to love, each of my clients, enough to look deeply at them and try the best I know how to serve them, selflessly, and joyfully.  I promise to hear their concerns and address them in an appropriate and caring manner.  I promise to look at their individual risks, and past experiences without bias to my own situations (though I may tell my stories along the way) and discuss options with my clients, allowing them full control over the care that they receive after hiring me.  I promise to love my clients the way I love myself, and take the time to get to know them, and their needs so that I can best serve my clients in them.

Theories on Birth

*please be aware this is just my thoughts on labor, not scientifically backed by any research.

When pregnant you’ll hear a lot of talk about ‘false labor’, and ‘prodromal labor’ and other terms that basically equate to ‘you won’t be having your baby as soon as you hoped’.  And as your pregnancy progresses you may actually experience these things.  It is a frustrating situation for all involved.  But it is also normal, and natural.

Here are some personal examples:

With my 1st baby I went to the hospital 3 weeks before his actual birth, believing I was in early labor and that since it was a bit early (I was 35 weeks pregnant at this point), I wanted to just make sure everything was OK.  Once in triage I was checked for leaking fluids and I was shown to be ‘intact’, my water had not broken… BUT I was contracting regularly and they were of a somewhat concerning strength, and my cervix was 6cm dilated.  I actually had a few different nurses and midwives tell me that I was between 4 and 6 centimeters in the next day while they kept me over night, so while there is some difference in interpretation based on who is checking, I believe that the determination to keep me at the hospital was well founded… however they were not going to ‘help me out’ by encouraging the baby to be born because it was still a bit early for him gestationally.  I was actually sent home the next day with instructions to return quickly should anything change… and nothing changed, for 3 WEEKS… but it was early so I was actually ok with this.

With my 2nd baby I was admitted against my will because I had high fluid and my baby had a long umbilical cord and they were worried that my contractions (the same ones I’d had for the last few weeks with no change in strength or duration) would cause my bag of waters to break and my child would die from prolapsed cord before I could return to the hospital.  My contractions did change my cervix, but they never brought my daughter down, leading me to believe that I was not in ‘active’ labor.  She was born by c-section for cord prolapse after the hospital based midwife broke my water to progress my labor (which wasn’t necessary considering neither of us was in any danger).

With my 3rd baby I did things differently but that didn’t make my body react differently.  I chose to birth my child at home, but my midwife (the closest one to my location at the time) lived 3 hours away from my home.  One Saturday morning I called her to inform her that I was having contractions that seemed to be building in strength and duration and that she should consider coming to me (thinking by the time she arrived 3 hours later I’d be in need of her)… HOWEVER, I spent that afternoon walking alone around the shared back yard of my neighborhood with regular contractions that actually seemed to be going away instead of building or getting stronger.  Once the midwife arrived and saw the state of things she actually left to attend another birth and came back to me having been contraction free for the duration of her other birth.  I was so disappointed!  She drove the three hours home having delivered a baby that she hadn’t even known was coming, to my supposed birth.  A full week later she made it to my birth about an hour before my baby was born.

With my 4th baby a week before her birth I called the midwife to ask her what she felt about the contractions I was having, she came, her assistant came, I wasn’t sure yet if they should be there, but felt comfort in knowing they wouldn’t have to fight traffic or wake up in the middle of the night to come to me and would already be there when things really picked up.  Well they went home after an entire night of me having regular strong contractions that were just not doing anything good enough to bring that baby out.  On the recommendation of my midwife my husband and I did some things to encourage the contractions to strengthen after everyone had gone home, and strengthen they did… so we called the midwives back and they had only JUST gotten home… I felt terrible when for the second time in one day I had to send them home, or rather they gave me the news that they were going home, which I knew was happening when things totally STOPPED after they had arrived.  They also put me on a modified bed-rest for a day and said I shouldn’t try anything to get the contractions to build again.  It had been fruitless and embarrassing for me anyway, I wasn’t about to do a thing.  An entire week went by and then one morning while cooking an egg a contraction hit me so strong that there really wasn’t a doubt about it being labor, and two hours later I was holding a baby in my arms.. one midwife made it as the baby was coming out, the other shortly after my daughter made her appearance.

My point here is that it is pretty darn normal to experience some contractions that don’t actually produce a baby the way other contractions will.  BUT is this not labor?  My body was certainly working some detail out… I was working, I was miserable during some of those more intense contractions, I was by all means laboring… but I didn’t labor to the tune of a baby that day, or even the next day, and at some point with all my babies I stopped laboring and didn’t start again for quite a long time (with the exception of my c-section birth).

I recently read an article about telling women bluntly that they are not in labor when they are experiencing what I have experienced in each and every one of my births… but I don’t think that is an accurate statement.  That IS labor… however it is not a part of labor that brings baby down and out, it is not the exciting climax of labor that produces the first sighting of an infant long-awaited by parents, midwives, and others who just want a glimpse at the cuteness of a newly born child.

I’m not saying that it isn’t important to be blunt with a mama who is laboring, that her labor isn’t at that point producing the hoped for outcome; birth.  HOWEVER, is it right to tell her she is having ‘false labor’ or that she isn’t experiencing labor at all?  I don’t think that is right either, and this is where my theory comes in.

I hypothesize, that a laboring woman will labor on and off several times throughout her pregnancy, we already know that the uterus contracts throughout all of pregnancy, so why would we say that some of those contractions are labor, and some are not?  Why would we try to draw a hard and fast line between contractions that produce the first sight of baby and those which will not, because in my mind all those contractions are serving a purpose specifically designed to further the process toward birth.

From the First trimester cramping, when the uterus is stretching to accommodate a growing baby, and to stretch ligaments and other things to ready for a baby that is only getting bigger…

To Second Trimester cramping and tightening which causes the uterus, such an amazing organ, to strengthen, stretch to accommodate a still growing baby, and ready itself for the big event which is coming in a few months.

If you were preparing for a marathon you wouldn’t sit on the couch every day eating bonbons and watching t.v. Training would begin months in advance, strengthening and toning muscles that will be used for the race… the same is true of the Uterus, strength training is continual, only you don’t have to be aware that it is happening to have it happen.  The uterus in many cases will just do the job it was created for without any hitches or conscious effort.

In the third trimester before birth a woman will experience more strength training in her uterus, sometimes this will seem to be progressing toward the birth of a baby and then slow down and stop only to leave the woman and her birth team disappointed that it didn’t bring forth the awaited child… but does this mean she isn’t laboring?

I BEG to be allowed to say that labor is an extension of pregnancy, just another part of the entire process and should be looked at, not as a separate event but a part of the original event (pregnancy).  Should we tell a woman she is ‘not in labor’… I don’t believe so.  I believe this woman is in labor, she has been for her entire pregnancy… BUT that doesn’t mean that baby is coming today.

Normally I don’t like telling people their nouns are wrong… but in birth I feel like clarity is hard to come by, and is also important to strive toward.

The disappointment of ‘wasting’ a midwife or doula’s time weighs heavily on the heart of a woman who has just been told she is not ‘in labor’.  She is embarrassed for having believed something about herself (the one person she should be able to trust about these things) and is then told by an outside party that her body lied to her… therefore letting her down.  And who is to blame?  The laboring woman… no one else can take that blame, and no one could convince her that it wasn’t hers to take.

So while I’ve mulled this over for some time, I think I’ve come up with the answer to the question you may all be asking.

“What do you say to a woman who will not likely give birth soon?”

First soon is irrelevant, soon could mean anything, it could mean in a week, or in a few minutes… soon isn’t a good word either.. but understanding the nature of the question my reflection leads me to this.

“This will be disappointing, you are working so hard to bring that baby out into your arms, but I don’t think it is quite time yet.  I’m going to go home, but I want you to call me AS SOON as anything changes. I don’t want you having that baby without me here!”

Looking over my own experiences I remember the words from my midwife at my first birth… she was SO concerned about sending me home and possibly having labor pick up FAST that it never occurred to me to believe that she was telling me I had ‘false labor’ or that my labor wasn’t ‘real’… she simply put the focus on how worried she was that I might not make it back in time when things really did pick up… with that to focus on I wasn’t disappointed in my body, I was happy to be given the hope that my baby was going to come soon and probably fast.

My body hadn’t failed me in that first labor, it was prepping for a big event, and would go on to perform perfectly when the time came.  But in my other situations I spent a good portion of time crying.. partially because I was actually post dates with the 3rd and 4th babies, but partly because I didn’t trust my body to tell me when I was in labor, because the professionals told me I wasn’t.  In retrospect, as a mother I wish I had sent them home, instead of holding out hope that things would pick up again, I wish I had just told them to go home and I’d call them back when and if they did pick up, but I was embarrassed and scared that I’d send them home and call them right back, which is exactly what happened one of those times, but still didn’t produce the child from my womb.

As a birth worker I feel like the decision should be the mothers… I feel that she should be the one to tell me when to come and when to go, but not all mothers (like me) are going to be honest with themselves about the ‘going’ if the baby hasn’t been born.  So I’m going to vow not to tell a woman she isn’t in labor, but rather that the labor she is experiencing isn’t quite the baby producing kind, and that perhaps she should rest, or do something enjoyable to take her mind off from it awhile, and call me back as soon as things pick up a bit, leaving a tiny bit of urgency in my voice so she knows I think it will not be long, even if the reality is that it may be an entire week later.

 

Have a Cherished Birth.

 

 

In case you haven’t got enough to do already! Yogurt!

I’ve been working on mastering the art of yogurt for awhile now, and I’m about to share some really exciting information with you.  YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN YOGURT!

Why would you though? It is SO inexpensive to buy, what need have you for making your own?  Well to put it simply, home made yogurt gives you a sense of accomplishment, and fills your body (gut) with healthy bacteria that you need to help your immune system stay strong.

Home made yogurt carries more of those essential bacteria than store bought yogurt too.  So if you want the amazing power of good gut health, you’ve got to get some yogurt!  You could buy expensive probiotics, but you are not guaranteed a good batch, and you have no way of knowing that there is more than sugar in those pills… but when you grow your own bacteria from milk that you culture yourself, as you watch the process you are SURE that there is healthful beneficial cultures in there, because if there were not, you wouldn’t get any yogurt.

Now that you know why, I’ll tell you how… but first let me explain a few things.  There are two different kinds of yogurt you can make… store bought milk has been pasteurized and homogenized, which kills all the bacteria in the milk so that you end up with a product that should in theory be safer for human consumption.  There are those who believe this process to be ridiculous, and you can take the time to find a more scientific article to find out why if you want… but I mention it because if you are educated on your milk facts and want to create yogurt from RAW milk without killing the natural bacteria I will include a second set of directions for RAW milk yogurt makers~

First up, store bought milk yogurt…

This yogurt will have all the same bacteria as the store bought yogurt, and potentially more of it, but not likely more variety.  So in terms of bacteria, you’ll probably get more bacteria, but not more variety.

What you need:

one gallon Milk (I prefer to use whole milk but any milk will work)

4 quart size wide mouthed canning jars

One cup of yogurt (you can pick up a single serve package at the grocery store, use plain or vanilla though, the flavor won’t be helpful)

Sugar or sweetener (if desired, I use about a cup but you can use as much or as little as you like)

Vanilla (if desired. I use 4 tablespoons, but again this is optional and used at your own discretion for taste)

One large stock pot with lid (should be large enough to fit all four jars inside with the lid in place (it doesn’t need to sit perfectly but should cover the opening).

Large towel or small blanket

Candy thermometer

How to make the yogurt:

Pour milk in stock pot, heat to 180 degrees (use your thermometer to check the temp) stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.  If sweetened yogurt is desired, in a separate bowl mix sugar, vanilla, and yogurt lightly, no whipping, or whisking, just mix until blended, set aside. If unsweetened yogurt is preferred just put your yogurt in a small bowl alone.

Once your milk has reached 120 degrees remove the thin layer of milk that has solidified at the top (it’s ok if this didn’t happen, but if it did you don’t want to leave it in the pot).  scoop about a cup of milk from the stock pot and mix lightly with the yogurt/sugar mixture.  Once it is completely blended pour the entire yogurt mixture into the stock pot and lightly stir.  Don’t make the bacteria angry, you’re not beating it, just lightly mixing.

Now rinse your mason jars with very hot water, you want only the bacteria from the yogurt to be growing here, no other.  Temperature of the milk won’t likely break your jars but to prevent that happening the hot water rinse will prepare them for the hot milk/yogurt mix.  Now pour your yogurt mixture into the jars evenly… if you have extra left over feel free to drink it, it’s delicious, especially if you’ve sweetened it.

Once all of the milk is emptied into the jars rinse your stock pot out and place the jars (with lids in place) inside the pot.  Now fill the empty space around the jars with warm/hot water.  Put your stock pot on a counter or stove top where it is unlikely to be bothered, cover with the lid, place the towel on top of the lid covering the edges of the lid in case heat might escape from them.  Leave your yogurt for 4 hours, then carefully transfer it to the refrigerator over night.  DO NOT OPEN your jars.. You might be tempted to look, taste, or touch your yogurt at this point, but resist, you’ll get a better yogurt if you don’t disturb the process.  Once your yogurt has refrigerated for 8 hours you can eat it to your hearts content!

Now for RAW milk yogurt.

Because making yogurt with raw milk means that you likely have researched the safety of raw milk, I’m not going to educate you on it, and I’m going to assume you want to keep the bacteria that is currently in the milk in place… if you don’t want to keep that bacteria and you’d like to kill what is there and start fresh you can use the recipe above to do that.  But this recipe is to keep the living bacteria of your raw milk in place and add to it to create yogurt.

The only thing we are going to do differently from the above recipe is not heat it up as high.  The milk bacteria needs to stay at a temperature between 95 and 110 degrees.  95 is probably more ideal.

Pour the milk into your stock pot and heat to 95 degrees, mix sugar, vanilla and yogurt separately and then add a cup of the heated milk stirring lightly (this is simply to avoid lumps).  Pour yogurt mixture into heated milk, mix lightly, and empty into jars, then follow the above directions… LITERALLY the only change is the temperature the milk is heated to.  Keeping bacteria alive is key in this one.

There have been multiple benefits found from encouraging a healthy gut flora… more regular bowel movements, less infection, less sickness in general, and even being group b Strep negative… There are several ideas for a healthy building of the gut bacteria, but this is one simple way you can do something incredibly fun for yourself and be more healthy at the same time.

Have a Cherished Birth!

and enjoy your yogurt!

Sleepless Nights

There are so many reasons once you become a mother, that your sleep will be interrupted… Most of them have to do with your children.  I’m not going to lie, you’re going to simultaneously love and loathe those little ones when they’ve kept you up the entire night.

When I had my first baby my husband worked nights, and in my delirium I fantasized about what I could do to muffle the sound of my crying son, a pillow came to mind, not to be placed on him but a few inches above him, just to have the sound hit something soft and not bounce around the room.  I never acted on that fantasy, but I did once call my husband at work (a big no no for a military man) and tell him that if a dog walked by our house and barked I was going to kill it, because I needed sleep, and someone needed to pay for the lack of it that I was getting.

Fast forward to my fourth, and she is perfect and all smiles and happy and cooing, and I think “wow, she’s so easy” and then we go through the normal sleep issues and come out feeling great, and then the congestion hits, and she’s coughing and gagging on snot all night, and even when it doesn’t wake her it sure wakes me!  And when it does wake her it’s OK, I have not slept yet anyway, for fear she’d stop breathing and die (did I mention my oldest DID stop breathing once?  No he didn’t die, and it only happened once but seriously once is enough!).  So I’m up and down, and up and down all night, and it’s tough, and it’s annoying, and I just want to scream, or run away and make her dad deal with it, because it’s been months since I had really good sleep….

But then the sun comes up, and she wakes up happy, with a smile on her face, and cooing and drooling and everything is OK. And that smile is just enough to know that all I went through the night before was worth it.

I am a mom, I get paid in smiles and hugs, and I love it!

You, expecting your first, or fourth, or eighth baby, you, if you don’t already, will know very soon the joy that a smile can bring you, the refreshment you need after a long night of caring for an infant that can’t or wont sleep when you want them to.  And you will know it is worth it.

BUT  you also really do have to take care of yourself, so below is a list of the things you can do to help yourself out when sleep and sanity are frolicking together somewhere far away from you.

Solicit help!

Lots of people love to hold babies, and don’t mind washing dishes or making a light meal for a sleep deprived mamma, you just have to ask, and that’s the hardest.  I’ve not lived close to family for most of my babies infant days, and asking for help meant asking women with children my own children’s age, which was both ridiculous because their plates were full, and impossible because their plates were full…  OR I could ask that sweet old lady that lives a few streets down, or the woman at church who loved to play with the kids before service.. and often that meant I didn’t really know the woman, but if you invite her to your home when you feel somewhat sane, then you’ll feel more comfortable calling on her in the middle of a rough day when you really need the help.  Get to know people now while baby is still inside, let them into your inner circle, or at least test the waters, you’ll be glad you did once baby is here and you’ve not slept more than three hours in a stretch in months.

Plan ahead.

OK, so most nights you can’t plan whether your baby will sleep or not, but what you can do is plan your days as if you DID NOT SLEEP…. So what this means to me is that from the time I wake up and get dressed until lunch I don’t do anything outside of my home.  Sometimes this means that I don’t get dressed until lunch time and I wander around feeling drained of energy and getting nothing done, but then there are days when baby did sleep longer and I can actually get things done in my house that have been neglected for way too long.  Thinking of your daily schedule and planning it as if you are going to be tired will help you not over schedule your day on days when you really can’t handle it… and give you an advantage for the days when you could have handled it, with nothing on your schedule you might be able to meet a friend for coffee, or take your older kids to the park.

Nap when Baby naps

Everyone says this, I find it stupid, but I’m going to say it anyway because there are people who magically accomplish it… I am not one of them, so if you are not either, don’t feel bad.  But if you can nap when your baby does, please try.

Lower your expectations

I don’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for your best every day, and want a clean home and nice food and ironed clothes (who does that?  anyone?  Am I the only one who completely ignores this task?)  What I do mean is that if you were a neat freak before you had a child then you are going to have to get used to a different method of doing things. A method that might mean you are too tired to get the dishes done every night before bed, or that occasionally means you don’t get the laundry folded as soon as it comes out of the dryer (meaning that since you don’t iron anything you might have to throw it back in the dryer or deal with wrinkled clothes).  Yes, get the dishes done, Yes, fold the laundry, but understand your timeline includes a new person and things are going to change, you can’t keep everything going all at once, and you certainly can’t do it on zero energy.

Eat

There are a few things in this life that are vital, eating, drinking and sleeping are those things.  We can choose when we do those things, and we should make them a priority.  If a child is keeping you awake at night therefore keeping you from sleeping, then you should focus more on the other two things… you NEED water, especially if breastfeeding your baby.  Most breastfeeding moms who experience a low supply of milk will admit that they have not been drinking enough water… how is your body supposed to make liquid when it has no liquid to make it from?  And if you want to regain a little of that sanity you need to feed yourself, and I don’t mean running to the pantry and eating a Little Debbie as you nurse your baby and try to sweep the floor… I mean something with true natural color, color it grew with.. food that grows! If it doesn’t look like something that at one point grew and was alive (the food, not anything that might grow on it) then you shouldn’t be eating it on a day when you are sleep deprived.

This sounds crazy, on the day you have no energy that you would be preparing food, actual food, but sister, I’m telling you, it is necessary!  Eat a salad, they are surprisingly easy to put together, especially now that you can get ham already cut into tiny pieces, carrots cut in whatever shape you like them in your salad, and lettuce in a bag that is already salad ready.  And those things are going to help you build up your energy and stamina for a day with a bad start.

Shower

Whether you shower at night or in the morning, or like me, whenever you can fit it in, you need to care for yourself, shower, make yourself clean and you will feel better about yourself, which will help you feel happier.

Get Dressed

Some days are pajama days, and that is OK, but don’t make some days all days… you really need to be comfortable going out to get the mail without worrying if the neighbors will see you.  Not because it is any of their business, but because if you worry about what people will think when they see you, then you are worrying, and worrying is not good for your mental health, so choose, is today a pj day, or is today a day that I get dressed, but pick one that will make you feel good, not just let you be lazy.

I hope some of these tips will help you feel better on those days when sleep has left you, and your children need you…

Have a Cherished Birth

When life give you Lemons…

You’ve all heard it, when life gives lemons you make lemonade…  RIGHT?

What lemons have I been given?

A LOT OF MOVING.

A C-section birth I NEVER wanted due to a cord prolapse, so incredibly emergent.

A Baby who wouldn’t/couldn’t latch well to breastfeed.

PTSD.

ECTOPIC pregnancy

Surgery

Miscarriage

Lots of Lemons…..

What am I doing with them, you might ask…

I feel like everything happens for a reason, it just does, I mean God has a much more grand plan for this planet and the people on it than what could ever happen to me, so sometimes bad things happen and I mourn, I cry, I suffer, but then I pick back up, learn whatever is possible (I never stop learning) from that situation, and then I use that to apply to other people and to help them through the situations for themselves.

And this is why you really should consider hiring me as your birth doula.  I’m not full of myself, but I’ve been working on this self respect thing, and yeah, if I’m honest I can actually say that it would be worth it for a number of people expecting their babies soon to actually think about hiring me.

As a doula I can say without a doubt, every woman needs a doula, and there is a perfect doula for every woman, but I’m not advertising for the other doulas just this second (though if I’m not the one for you I’d be happy to help find one that is perfect for you).

But here are the reasons you should hire me… listed out in lemonade

I’m not from here, I’m not from a lot of places, but I’ve lived in a lot of places, so maybe you are new to the area and you want someone who can understand where you are from… I’ve lived in Michigan, California, Oklahoma, New Zealand, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and North Carolina… that is a lot of places, and from that I’ve gained a pretty good understanding of a lot of different cultures, both in and out of the United States… (side note, I also hosted exchange students as a kid, so I learned a bit about Hungary, Germany, Japan, China, and Peru as well).

You are planning a beautiful un-medicated birth, or an epidural assisted delivery, or a scheduled c-section… yeah, I’ve been to births, and I’ve experienced them myself, I actually know how frightening it can be to experience it the first time, or to be experiencing it again after a time that wasn’t pleasant… Because my second was born by c-section and in a very big emergency, I didn’t have time to plan for the changes that happened around me, and my husband nearly passed out, so he wasn’t much help either. In that moment, don’t you think it would be great to have a reassuring hand to hold?  The hand of a woman who has been in a situation similar to your own?  This is in no way intended to mean that your birth wouldn’t be wonderful, but sometimes the unexpected happens, and if it did, you’d be well cared for with me.

So you planned to breastfeed, and things are not going well?  I understand, I’ve had a baby who just couldn’t get it right… I’ve dealt with the disappointment of not getting my baby to latch, I’ve dealt with the heartache when giving up the pump because it is painful and doesn’t produce the effect (milk) that you are hoping for.  If this happens to you, wouldn’t it be nice to know you are not the only one?  Lets hope it doesn’t, but the support of an understanding woman just might be helpful.. plus, since it happened to me I’ve done a lot to prevent it from ever happening again and learned a lot of really neat tricks along the way that might help you avoid giving up the dream.

After the birth of my second child went so far off course I struggled with my emotions and my actions, my mental health wasn’t good.  I thought I had PPD, but it turns out I was actually suffering from PTSD, my brain just wouldn’t stop replaying the moment when I felt my surgeon open my skin to take my baby out.  Mental problems after childbirth, no matter the cause, are serious, and I take them seriously.. My mom’s will know without a doubt that if they need help I’m there, if I can’t help I will find help for them.  I won’t play around when my mom’s are frustrated and it is taking a bit longer to get over it than it should, or when they are sleep deprived and need a rest, I’ll help them to get back to that sweet spot where they can relax and be taken seriously if they are struggling.

Some women wait to hire a doula until they are close to the end of their pregnancy, because maybe they don’t know they need one, or maybe they just figure a doula is there for just the birth of the baby… but to be honest pregnancy; the whole thing, is full of ups and downs, emotions, and fear, and excitement, and ALL THE THINGS!!!!  Because I’ve lost not one but two babies very early on I know how important early care is.  To have someone reassure you during those scary moments, or to cheer you on with your nutrition goals, or just to congratulate you at every milestone is pretty awesome, I’d love to do that with you!

And if things happen to take a turn for the worst and you lose your little one, due to ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage, or even late term loss, you don’t have to suffer in silence, there is another woman who would love to give you a hug, talk about the baby you were preparing to meet, and just plain love on you while you mourn this devastating loss.

Let me be your doula, let me celebrate with you, let me mourn with you, let me cheer you on, let me be a friend… it’s more than a job, it’s a calling.

I’ve been training my whole life for this job… and I’d love to help you in the transition of becoming the mother of THIS child.

Let my lemons be your lemonade.

Have a Cherished Birth.

Align Mommy and Me

The latest news in my world is that I’ve partnered with Align Chiropractic and Wellness in Choctaw to create “Align Mommy and Me”.  Approximately twice a month Tara Goodson of Align Chiropractic and Wellness and I are going to be getting together with other moms in the area and talking about fun mom topics, and sharing a fun afternoon with people in the mom zone.  We are incredibly excited to start this up!

Our first meeting is scheduled for March 24th at 11am.  The topic will be Nutrition.  Tara and I will both be talking a bit about it, but she’s going to take the lead this time.

I’m so excited to share this new adventure!  If you are in the Choctaw area on Friday the 24th, please come and see us!

 

Tara has also invited me to start meeting my clients in her office as well.  So when arranging to meet with me for doula services I will now be scheduling my initial meetings in Tara’s office.  After the initial meeting we will decide what is best for your individual case and where would be best to meet, in your home, or in Tara’s office space in Choctaw.  Scheduling those first appointments should be pretty easy, I’ll be seeing people on Fridays, and my time card is wide open right now!  I look forward to hearing from you all soon.  Lots of babies coming, and they all should have a doula on their birth team!

Have a Cherished Birth.