Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New pics!

Matthew was finally in good enough spirits today to take a few pictures. I'm not sure what's going on with him. He's been generally whiney and crabby for about a week, which is unlike him. He's generally so good natured and even tempered. We skipped his 6 month shots because he was just coming off of being sick, so it's not that. And he is finally over being sick. We don't see any outward signs of teething. He's just out of sorts. I feel badly for him because I don't know how to make him feel better.

Anyway, he was in a good mood at least for a little while today so I snapped a few 6 months shots. My car is broken down, but when it's fixed, I'll still take him out to get professional ones. These will have to suffice in the mean time :)

And we really, really love blowing raspberries these days!

Sweet Potatoes garnered a much more positive first reaction than the green beans and avocado did, though he likes those now too.

This picture is almost a month old, I just haven't had a chance to post it, yet. This is Matthew's "I'm really, really excited" look. It's so cute. This was during baby bench presses--great arm workout and Matthew loves them! And if you've seen like ANY picture of my DH when he's smiling, you'll see that he does the same crinkly nose thing that Matthew is doing here. It's SO cute, on both of them.

Ok, need to go clean the house! Night!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

6 Months Old!

My little man turned 6 months old yesterday! Every day, he's less my little baby and more my little boy!

Stats from yesterday:

Weight: 17lb, 11oz, putting him in the 50th percentile
Length: 27.25" (I guess the 4 month measurement wasn't very accurate because they measured twice yesterday and I'm pretty sure he didn't shrink). This puts him between 75-90 percentile for height.

Loves: Daddy, mommy, doggy, Sophie, music, and his jumperoo.
Dislikes: Not many, these days.

Skills: Rolling over--he goes everywhere. Some tripod sitting. Using his hands cooperatively. Putting.EVERYTHING.in.his.mouth!! Facial recognition. Reaching for things, whether they're next to him, above him, or below him. It's so cute. He wants something, and he just reaches out and gets it. It's so cool to watch his mind at work.

My favorite new skill: KISSES! He of course doesn't kiss like a grownup does, but he opens his mouth and presses it against my face. He doesn't suck or gnaw--just holds his wet little mouth there for a moment. And 90% of the time, he only does it for me which I sort of secretly love since he is a daddy's boy in so many other ways. It makes my heart melt. Today, he did it 30 times (not that I'm counting...yes, I totally AM counting!) It's our special little time! I would be perfectly content if he never learned to kiss the "real" way because I love these wet, slobbery kisses! I think it's him responding to all the kissy-face I've played with him. It makes me so very happy. At this moment, it truly is my favorite thing in the world. I wish I could bottle it up and keep it forever. Some of my books say that this usually comes out around 12 months, so I'm just tickled pink that I get it 6 months early, and hopefully for 6 months longer than I otherwise would, so long as he doesn't learn "real" kisses early too.

Working on: The baby inch-worm boot scoot boogy. Every now and then he looks like he's interested in the army crawl, but he tends to arch his back so that both his head and feet are in the air. With only his belly on the ground, he doesn't go far...or anywhere, really. However, he also arches his back when he's ON his back, so then his head and heels are on the ground. He will arch his back severely enough that the top of his head is on the ground. Then he'll push off his heels and scoot up until the back of his head is flat on the ground again. It's really funny. He doesn't do it a lot because he's figured out that rolling gets him where he wants to go faster, but he does do it some. It's really cute, as goofy as it is.

Current disposition: Well, excluding today (he was CRABBY today), he's generally very good tempered, even when he's sick. The challenge is that he's getting more active and more opinionated, so he grows impatient more quickly, but so long as he's able to keep busy, he's happy. Gone are the days of snuggling with mommy--he's my busy little bee!

His other big news is that we started solid foods this week.

His first food was avocado. I really wanted to introduce him to several vegetables first. I know avocado is not in the Gerber "first foods" but it's so, so, SO good for you and I figured that it's texture is easy and flavor mild enough that later on, I could mix it with other things to get some healthy oils in him. His first few bites, he just looked confused. Sort of like, "What is this? Why did you give this to me?" And then:

He is so, so, SO expressive. There is rarely a moment when you don't know what my little man is thinking, as evidenced by that picture. :D

I'm choosing to make a lot of Matthew's food. Isn't it pretty? I find a lot of enjoyment in buying the food, preparing it for him, and freezing it. We're doing jarred things too, especially foods that are on the "dirty dozen" list that are hard or expensive to come by organically. Apples are pretty easy to get organically. Pears, not so much, at least around here.

From left to right: red apples, yellow apples, grapes, green beans, blueberries. Aren't they pretty? We had registered for these food prep storage trays and I love them! They make 2oz portions, they have a lid, the frozen food pops out really easily, and they're very easy to clean! The product is a little pricey, but if you can find it on sale, we think it's worth the investment!

So, he had avocado for a few days, and then we introduced him to green beans. Those went over even less well than the avocado. But now, after he's had both for a couple of days, today he ate both enthusiastically. Tomorrow he gets sweet potatoes, then on to carrots, and then we'll introduce some fruits. We're only giving him 1-2 ounces of solid food as I still wish for most of his nutrition to come from breast milk. But, even though it's just a little part of his day, we are enjoying it!

The other huge news is that he is FINALLY sleeping through the night. He went from 2-3 hour stints, to now he sleeps 8:00pm to around 4:30am pretty consistently. Then he eats until about 5:00 am and then sleeps again until between 8:30 and 9:00. I am so very, very grateful. The balance now is making sure *I* go to bed early enough to take good advantage of that first long stretch. It's tempting to stay up late in the evening to do my chores, or even to just hang out with DH, so I'm trying to make sure I'm good about my bedtime, now that we have a good one for him.

I don't have any six month pictures of him yet. Yesterday we didn't have time, and today, he was super crabby all day. All 4 of us (Lewis included) slept in late and took 2 naps today so I guess we all needed the extra sleep. Hoping to get some pictures tomorrow and then I'll take him to Penney's one day next week for some professional pictures. I love my $3.99 coupon.

We're hoping to get back to church in the morning. Baby was sick for almost 3 weeks so neither he nor I have been in as many weeks. He seems to be better but then again, he was so out of sorts today that we'll just have to wait and see what the morning brings.

Off to enjoy a quiet evening with my hubby.

Love to you all!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Please don't call my birth "unnecessary"

I have hesitated posting this for months because I know two dear women who are active in the community I'm about to describe. Dear friends, forgive me in advance if I offend you. But once again, this issue keeps me up tonight. This blog has always been about honesty and advocacy, as well as processing of my own thoughts, so the time has come to export this out of my head.

I bear two scars from the birth of my son: one that lies a few inches below my belly button, and one that lies several inches above it. The physical one has long since healed. The one in my heart still pains me to this day, even though my son is nearly 6 months old.

"Unnecessarean." It's a term coined by the unmedicated birth community to describe c-sections that they deem were needlessly performed. It's a term wrought with looks of pity, heavy sighs, and moral superiority. I'm sure some of them even pat themselves on the back for being so clever in their verbiage.

The unmedicated birth community has unilaterally, universally decided that their way is best, and that their methods should always be employed first. Modern western medicine ought always be a last resort. After all, women have been having babies for thousands of years, right? They even go so far as to call their community "natural," as if the births among the rest of us are "unnatural."

We were overjoyed to find out we were pregnant. Almost immediately, we were asked all sorts of questions. Where were we going to deliver? At home or in a hospital? Did I want an epidural? How did I feel about c-sections? I will be honest and say that at that moment, I couldn't have cared if the baby teleported out of me, or came out during one of my many barfing sessions, so long as he arrived safe and sound in my arms.

I began doing some reading. A couple of friends had completed Bradley classes. My best friend recommended them. Another dear friend said she hated every second of them, but still recommended them. So, we eagerly enrolled. I will say that from talking to other women, a person's satisfaction and success with the class seems to depend largely on the teacher.

I knew from the get-go that I didn't want a C-Section. But not for the reasons that the unmedicated birth community says I shouldn't have wanted one. After 7 years of infertility, you start to feel like everything is assisted. And you start to feel like your body can't do anything the way it ought to. And in 30 years, I've never broken a bone, had a major dental procedure, undergone major surgery, or been a patient in a hospital. So, the thought of surgery freaked me out. Not because I thought it was going to put me or Matthew at risk, but just because, hey! It was major surgery! Who looks forward to that, even under the safest of odds?

Enter the Bradley classes and books, and the literature and battle cries from the other side. The Bradley workbook has a handy little chart that says essentially that there is always some position, maneuver, technique, or other alternative method to get you out of whatever jam you're in that's threatening to end in a c-section. And that's the end of their story. If you end in a c-section, it's most likely because you didn't advocate for yourself enough, you didn't educate yourself enough, you gave your doctor or the hospital too much leeway, or you simply didn't try hard enough or wait long enough.

I'm here to tell you that despite what your 30 year old books and one-sided classes say, that's simply just not always the case. Sure, women have been giving birth for thousands of years without modern technology. And they and their children have also been dying in the process for equally many years. Matthew would have been among the victims, and it's likely that eventually, I would have been too.

I say as loudly and strongly as I can: You are not helping women when you teach them that they ought to fear and distrust their doctors and that the hospitals are out to get them! Before the classes, it never would have occurred to me that a woman who had undergone a c-section would feel shame or failure. But in the eyes of these women, she is less-than. I am less-than.

If a woman doesn't trust her doctor, she shouldn't be in her care to begin with. You should be encouraging your clients and friends to develop relationships of trust and open communication with their care-providers. But to posture yourself as knowing more about both birth and a given woman than her many-years educated doctor and to bully her when she is already hormonal and frightened woman with scare tactics and one-sided information is unconscionable. To do it in the name of "advocacy" is laughable.

Is it true that there are some doctors who perform needless procedures on their patients in the name of convenience and expediency? Sure. But those guys are lousy doctors. You should focus your efforts on THEM, and not on procedures that some...many...women end up legitimately needing. Sure there are jerk doctors. And there are even some women who schedule c-sections for vanity or convenience--but that's not most of us. There are also midwives and doulas who are overconfident in their abilities and tarry too long in employing professional medical help, sometimes resulting in tragic deaths of babies and their mommies. The unmedicated birth community doesn't corner the market on caution, safe deliveries, or patient care. I CHOSE a hospital birth. It's not because I didn't know I could give birth in a bathtub in my house or in a cozy little birthing center. It's arrogant to assume that a woman who doesn't do things your way does so simply because she doesn't know any better. For a community that claims to value women so highly, you certainly don't seem to think much of most of us.

There are two sides to every coin. You think an ultrasound is unsafe. I think that doing external versions on babies without being able to see if you're going to entangle or compress their cord or fluid is unsafe. Bradley says there is no reason to take any medication of any kind at all during pregnancy. Another author I read said that not eating well is akin to child abuse. We came to the conclusion that my rapid weight loss and inability to eat ANYTHING (I went 6 consecutive days not being able to keep one bite of food or drop of liquid down) was more risky than medication, and that eating SOMETHING, even if it was a sugar-filled "nutrition" "shake" was better than nothing at all. I labored for 14 hours without an epidural. You think they're unsafe and that the body does better without them. When I finally got one is when my body finally was able to return to normal function. It's up to a woman and her husband to determine what risks they are and are not willing to take. And unless you are that woman or her husband, it's not your business what she decides. It doesn't serve any constructive purpose for you as a community to editorialize procedures, practitioners, facilities, and births that you know only anecdotally at best. Why do you have any opinion at all on what kind of birth I had?

When I finally went to c-section, I had been in labor for a total of 30 hours, including 6 hours of pushing. I'd also had two other incidents of false starts--one was 7 hours of intense contractions about 2 weeks before he was born, and another episode was 4 hours, about a week after the first. I went in to the hospital already dilated to a 6 before active labor had begun. But for some reason, though it tried with all its might, it just didn't work right.

Matthew was just stuck. You know what my Bradley teacher said was the proper response when a doctor tells you that your baby is stuck? That "babies don't know they're stuck, or in the wrong position, or can't fit so that's not a real reason."

After 30 hours, I can tell you it IS a real reason. My doctor, bless his heart, tried EVERYTHING. I asked him at the very beginning of my labor what he and his wife wanted when they had kids. He said that they wanted an unmedicated birth. So several times I asked him, "if this was your wife, knowing what she wants for a birth experience, what would you do?" And he'd answer me accordingly.

We tried different positions. We tried different lengths of pushing. We tried different degrees of force. The doctor reached in and tried to turn the baby to un-wedge him. At one point he told me to stop pushing and sleep for an hour to see if rest would rebuild my strength. At another point, he reached up inside to hold the baby and feel my cervix to feel first-hand if I was pushing properly and forcefully enough. Matthew just wasn't coming. For whatever reason, my pelvic cavity wouldn't accommodate him. All the pushing was just forcing his poor little head down, but the rest of his body wasn't coming.

And then, his vitals plummeted. My sweet doctor, who had avoided the "c word" as long as he could, put his foot down and said we needed to go. There were no alternatives left. When my sweet baby came out, he wasn't breathing. I didn't know that at the time. I didn't know it until just recently, when I received a bill for "infant resuscitation" and nearly threw up on reading it. I recently had the courage to look at the pictures my husband took in the operating room. Matthew was purple. Instantly relief and gratitude for the wisdom of my doctor and God's provision of excellent care swept over me. The baby was wedged so hard in there that they literally had to pry him out with the surgical equivalent of a crow bar. The doctor said that I could have pushed for days longer and the baby still would not have come out. Matthew would have died, and in the "good-ol-days" before c-sections, I would have, too.

I anguished about the decision to have a c-section. I begged my mother and husband not to tell ANYONE that I had had one. I refused to shower for days because I couldn't bear to take the bandage off and see the scar. When I finally did, I wept big, ugly, uncontrollable tears, to the point where I scared my husband when he found me curled in the shower, sobbing. All I kept thinking was that I had failed my son and I thought that if people knew I'd had a c-section, they'd think I was a coward who gave up. Eventually I realized that no one outside that community would even care how I gave birth. But it never would have occurred to me that I would have had reason to feel shame had those silly thoughts not been planted in my head by well-meaning extremists.

I accept responsibility for my feelings. I realize now that I was hormonal and unreasonable and irrational. But I felt betrayed by the very people who said they are out to help and protect women. I wonder how many women would have been spared a lot of fear and shame and guilt if they had received a more balanced education about c-sections. Birth can be scary. It ought to be surrounded with grace, unbiased information, encouragement, and empowerment.

I think it's wonderful that you want women to know that they have options when it comes to birth. And as much as my Bradley class was terrible in actually preparing me for the REAL world of births that don't go exactly according to plan, I do appreciate that it educated me on what my rights were in the hospital. But that's about the end of the benefit it provided us. My dad's best friend is a widely respected OB and has been for many, many years. My mom asked him after my birth if it was normal for women to feel so much anxiety in the birth process. He said he'd only seen it in women who had gone through Bradley training and that actually, he no longer would work with any patients who chose to go through those classes. That tells me that we were not alone in our experience.

Scare tactics might be effective in the short term. They sure get a lot of attention and press-time. And witty little monikers even make you sound clever. But at the end of the day, you don't know what's going on in each woman's situation. Sometimes there just AREN'T any more options. You can post your blog articles and your status updates and disguise your judgment in witty quips, but for as many women as you help, you isolate equally many more. We ARE listening. We are curious about what you have to say. But when we hear judgment, it makes us reluctant to seek your help. "Unnecessarean" isn't clever, or funny, or witty. It's insulting and condescending. If you want to describe YOUR OWN caesarean as "unnecessary," it is your right to do so and I am sorry for you that you ended up with a care provider you could not trust. But to sloppily label a whole category of births simply because they share a procedure in common is completely irresponsible and irreverent.

Please don't call my birth unnecessary. It saved my son's life, and I will forever thank God for it.