February 04, 2014

The Safety of Home Birth

I love birth. I particularly love home birth. Considering my longing to be a home birth midwife (in the not so distant future if my husband can stop impregnating me for a couple of years), it is very important to me to uphold the often tarnished name of  "Home Birth". In may circles today, it is considered a scary, irresponsible, strange thing that must be analyzed and critiqued. Since the dawn of time, however, it was simply "How Babies Are Born". But recently there have been studies cropping up claiming that home birth is dangerous, always indicating that the mother's desire for less intervention is really risking the life of her child, and that midwives in the U.S are either not trained well enough or not controlled tightly enough to ensure healthy results. 

THIS IS RIDICULOUS! I'm really, honestly sick of hearing this garbage, especially since it is always flawed in the exact. same. way. They never account for the cause of death! So let me just break this new one down for you. 

First of all, you cannot assume that a blog contains truthful information just because it has the name "science" in its title...just to clear that up. 

Okay, we'll start with the obvious. The last sentence says that the study did not account for the cause of death, so this "study" (and I use the term loosely) is including unplanned and unassisted births. We could be talking dad-delivers-baby-on-side-of-road-in-a-blizzard births. We could be talking moms who don't have adequate (or any) prenatal care, moms who use drugs and don't know they are pregnant, moms living on the street. We could be talking certain religions that don't allow for any needed medical intervention, moms who have super fast labors and don't make it to the hospital, moms who choose home birth because they can't afford the hospital bills. These are very important considerations, because a mom's knowledge and understanding of her birth, as well as her overall health, her views on birth, and her plan for birth, have a huge impact on her actual birth! A mom who is not planning a home birth will not have prepared physically and mentally as a mom who is planning to birth at home. She may not understand what her body is going through physiologically and how to help it or hinder it. She will not be prepared to work through the pain if she had every intention of getting an epidural. She might not have had a good diet, so she could experience complications from diabetes or pre-eclampsia which are hugely diet-related and can be dangerous. The only way to accurately measure the safety of home birth is to only include planned home births in the study. 

That glaring misrepresentation aside, the study was also lead by an obstetrician, and one who clearly has an issue with midwives and doubts their skills by questioning their ability to attend healthy, low risk mamas. He feels that twins, VBACs, and breech births are dangerous, which sets him up to misinterpret the data. If you feel that those conditions make a mom "high risk" then you are going to view the entire labor and delivery process as an emergency waiting to happen. You are going to automatically assume that if a baby or mom dies in a home birth that it was due to those risky conditions. Obstetricians are no longer taught how to deliver twins or breech births because the automatic recommendation is a c-section! So yes, if they don't have any idea how to deliver these babies they are going to view them as dangerous. If you view these, as I do, as variations of normal, then you plan for a normal birth. You learn some additional coping techniques for specific things that may be more likely to occur, but in general you view the birth as normal and the mom as CAPABLE. When you view the mom as capable, she is more likely to succeed! And the amazing thing about midwifery care is that our knowledge has been passed down for generations! We know how to handle things that a hospital would view as an emergency because midwives had to take care of these scenarios before hospitals were around and before c-sections were regularly performed. Midwives know how to diagnose and heal with their hands, while obstetricians are taught to rely on their equipment.

I will tell you that women choose to be midwives because they love women, love birth, love babies, and want to encourage and bless other women with a positive entrance into motherhood. The number of midwives who are severely under-trained and do nothing about it, the number of midwives who do this for the money, and the number of midwives who are just clueless and irresponsible is incredibly low. In addition, it's quite silly to assume that your obstetrician is all-knowing, because someone had to come in at the bottom of every class! Not all doctors go to conferences and special training seminars. Some of these professionals are stuck in the past and do not keep up with new trends, advice, or research!

Lastly, the article even concedes that different results are derived from different studies. If you look at unbiased, comprehensive analysis of planned home birth, you can see that it is just as safe as a hospital birth (many would argue safer), with less incidence of interventions. Look at Ina May's statistics

Truly, this kind of fear-mongering crap is infuriating. STOP telling women that they aren't smart enough, strong enough, capable enough, or shaped right to birth their babies! Stop telling them that they need the man in the white coat to rescue them all the time! Stop telling them that the experience is irrelevant and all that matters is a healthy baby! Can we please go back to women helping women birth wherever they are most comfortable, utilizing experience and wisdom that spans the ages, and trusting the mother's God-given instinctual ability? We were made to birth, ladies! Our bodies are perfectly designed for this task. Do not let unfounded fears dictate your decisions. 

December 14, 2011

The One That Offends Everybody

Anybody that knows me knows that I have very strong opinions about parenting. Sometimes I alienate people because I come on too strongly, and some people feel that I am being judgmental. I am writing this to come clean. I want to explain what I think and why. Very importantly I want to state that I do not think I'm better than any parent that chooses differently than I do. In some cases I wish that different choices were made, but I am not trying to elevate myself in any way. My goal is to spread true information, maybe a new perspective on a subject, and encouragement.

As parents we all have choices, and in most situations the choices should be our own to make - after all, each family runs a little bit differently and a parent will know their child better than anybody else, so they usually are the best suited to make decisions. One thing that I always advocate for, though, is that parents make informed decisions. Decisions based on fact, after researching all of the sides and arguments, and taking into account their gut feelings and the feelings of their spouse and child. Informed decisions sadly do not seem to be the norm any more. Even with the wealth of information available at our finger tips, an astounding number of people are still making decisions based on what their parents did, or what seems socially acceptable, or what their pediatrician recommends, or what is convenient. Let me say this loud and clear: Just because your parents did it, and you turned out relatively normal, does not make it right. The choices our parents made were not based on the information that we have now, 20+ years later. Please remember that many things that are deemed socially acceptable in certain areas of the world are considered horrific and unjust in others. And if you go to five different pediatricians in any given city and ask about breastfeeding a newborn, you will almost certainly receive five different answers on topics from how often they should eat, how long on each breast, and if it's okay to incorporate bottles and when. In my experience, pediatricians answers very often have to do with convenience to the parent or doctor, and not medically sound information.We live in an age of information, and we need to take advantage of it! Parents are hard-wired with instincts, and when you look at the biology behind our instincts and line it up with medical studies, they compliment each other! As long as your desire for your child is based on love for him, never go against your instincts. But don't confuse instincts with guilt or common beliefs from the majority. 

There are areas of parenting that I am passionate about, but they are areas that I understand are up to the parents. While they work for me, they might not work for everybody for many different reasons. 

I advocate for natural, vaginal birth, because it's the safest and most efficient way to birth for both the mom and baby in 96% of cases. Any drugs given to the mom in labor do cross the placenta barrier and reach the baby, often resulting in a drugged, sleepy baby. They also very often hinder mom's natural abilities during the labor and pushing phases, necessitating more interventions. Pitocin starts labor when the baby is not ready, and causes frequent, intense contractions that can harm the baby. C-sections are a major abdominal surgery that should never be considered harmless. Babies that have not been squeezed through the vaginal canal often have a more difficult time breathing initially and are far more likely to have respiratory problems throughout life. I could go on and on. Basically, I encourage women to birth naturally whenever I have the chance, because it is safer in every way. However, I still understand and respect that birth is a personal choice, and while I may feel that one way is better than another, I don't judge anybody for choosing the birth that they think is best for them. I do get very frustrated when women are not educated about birth choices and don't stand up for themselves. I do get very frustrated when they place all control into the hands of their hospital, because if anyone does the tiniest bit of digging you can find that the United States is doing terribly in maternal care compared to most other developed countries. So I hope that moms will do their research and choose safe, healthy options for delivery, but it's not really a huge deal if they don't. It's not my right, or the government's right, or a doctor's right to tell anyone how to birth. 

I strongly advocate for breastfeeding because it is the absolute best way to feed your infant. There is no comparison between breast milk and formula, and babies that receive formula are absolutely missing out on the many benefits of breastfeeding, such as antibodies that protect against illness, infection, and allergies. The mother benefits as well, since our hormones are directly responsible for milk production, lessening the chances of postpartum depression and also reducing our risk of developing breast cancer and heart disease. There are very few women who do not produce enough milk. Breastfeeding is the way we were designed to feed our babies, and if we were unable to do it our species would have died out long ago. So many women give up on breastfeeding early on because they "aren't producing enough", but little do they know that there are many ways to increase supply, the simplest being to nurse your baby more often! Just like birth, I hope and pray that women do their research on the benefits of breastfeeding and then get physical support to help them from the very beginning, be it LLL or an IBCLC. I get frustrated when women give up early, and more so when they don't try at all. But, this is another area that is the parent's choice, and I respect that. I understand that there are many reasons women don't nurse, be it pressure from family members, false information, or psychological pain from the past. I will always encourage breastfeeding, and I will continue to share breastfeeding resources. 

But I do not think that parents that formula feed are bad parents. I do not think that parents that plan c-sections are bad parents. I do not think that I'm better than them. I think there are better choices out there! And having been a formula feeding, drugged-out birthing mom, I'm even more strongly compelled to share about the better ways I've fed and birthed my babies after learning a little more. The medical field is doing us such a disservice. There is so much incorrect information being circulated by the people we are charging to keep us safe. That is why I have and will continue to post as much positive information that I can about the wonderful ways our bodies work in their natural state. I was hugely uninformed when I had my first son, and I wish so badly that someone had been telling me the things I am now telling you. That is why I share. 

Having said all that, there is one decision that parents make that I do not and cannot respect. That is the choice to circumcise. Please bear with me and read through this. Right now, circumcision is fairly normal. It is falling off the curve though, and in 2009 only about 1 in 3 baby boys was circumcised in the United States. But it is still routinely done and not given much thought by many people. We can't be so arrogant to think that we know everything. We can't be so arrogant to think that the choices we are making right now won't be mocked in 20, 50, or 100 years. It wasn't so long ago that slavery in the United States was normal and accepted. It wasn't so long ago that women weren't allowed to go to college. Society has shifted, and with a new eye we were able to look at these situations, see that they weren't right, and work hard to change them. I believe that circumcision of infant boys is just as wrong as slavery. And I'm not alone. I don't want to bash your parenting choices and make you feel bad. I don't want to make myself out to be superior. I only want to share information, and maybe help to change your thinking about something that has been considered normal and acceptable for so long. There are people around the world that are mutilating the genitals of little girls, and we look at that and scream about the injustice of such backward-thinking abuse. There are slight differences between the practices of male and female genital mutilation, but they are similar enough that the similarities need to be noticed and contemplated. 

The first reason that I oppose infant circumcision is the pain. This procedure causes the baby extreme pain. It is not quick, it is not a snip, and it is not "a bit uncomfortable". If you don't believe me, watch a video on youtube. Whether the video is a of a child that has received pain medication or not, you can't tell the difference. The screams are the same. Most parents don't watch a video of the procedure before they make their decision, and they assume the things that I mentioned above. If you have never watched a video before, please watch the one I am linking below. It is not done on a baby, so there is no screaming or blood. It is an educational video done with props. This is a good place to start getting information, because the way the procedure is done is important. As I mentioned, it is not a snip, and it is not just pushing back a little flap of skin. It is a substantial amount of skin that is cut off, and then pushed back. The procedure takes minutes to complete, as there are many steps. The whole time, the baby will be screaming. This is not something like a shot that is done in under a minute. This is not something like a blood draw with medical necessity to a sick child. This is intense, constant pain to a tiny, helpless child that has no need. The foreskin is attached to the glans in the way that your fingernails are attached to your nail bed. They have to separate that skin, and yes, it is unbelievably painful. Please do not perpetrate the idea that circumcision is a quick little snip of a flap of useless skin. Watch the video, and if you aren't convinced watch videos of the actual procedure on a baby. I cannot and will not respect the choice to put a helpless newborn through this horrible pain for 5 or more minutes when it is not medically necessary. Which leads me to my next point.

Is circumcision medically necessary? No. The foreskin is a functioning body part. It has a purpose. There is no reason to remove it from a person that cannot consent. This isn't like any other choice a parent makes for their child. This is permanently removing a healthy, functioning organ that they can never get back. It is not our choice. It's not our body! There is no other instance where a body part is removed as a preemptive strike. Removal of a body part is always a last resort in a very sick person, such as frostbite or breast cancer. We simply do not cut off body parts on a whim - it doesn't make any sense that we are cutting off healthy body parts from healthy people! There may or may not be some potential benefit to circumcision in the adult male in terms of disease spread. The American Academy of Pediatrics themselves say "Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision." I am not going to get into the possible benefits and the counter measures, because I don't think it's relevant. The newborn is not sick. His foreskin is not sick. He is not having sex. If it is one day found that circumcision greatly reduces the risk of STD transfer during sex, then the grown man should be able to decide for himself to make the choice to get circumcised. Circumcision has no merit during the childhood years, so it should not be a parental choice.  

The argument that it is better to do on a newborn when they won't remember the pain is absurd. This is a brand new human being. He has no clue what is going on. All he knows it the smell and sound of his mother. He is completely and utterly helpless. And nobody can tell me that it makes sense to put him through excruciating pain just because he won't remember it when he's grown. As my husband says, "Why don't we just punch them in the face, too? Since they won't remember it!" Lack of memory does not take away from the fact that they are experiencing it right then and there, and it's terrible. If anything, I'd rather do a painful procedure on an older child who is able to understand and communicate with you. An older child won't feel alone and abandoned, and the same sense of fear that I'm positive an unsuspecting newborn feels. 

Lastly I will touch on the issue of appearance. The most ludicrous argument for the procedure is so that the baby will "look like his daddy", or classmates. My daughter looks nothing like me, and while I'm a tiny bit saddened by that, I certainly don't plan to take any steps to change her appearance, let alone surgical ones. And more than likely the child will have other characteristics of the father, like his eye color or nose shape. For those concerned about teasing, please tell me if you also plan to get your 7 year old contacts if they need glasses and your 15 year old breast implants if she is small-chested. Teasing comes with childhood, and if it's not one thing it's another. I have asked around, and all of the men I know say that in the locker room, nobody looks! You'd get teased more for looking than for the state of your penis. And in the event that my son actually is teased for being whole, I pray that we will have equipped him properly and that he will stand up for himself. A good friend told me a hilarious story about her brother, who would respond to critical onlookers, "You're actually making fun of me for having more penis than you?" Really, I think one major goal in parenting is to raise children that feel loved and confident. If we are raising our kids to worry about what everyone else thinks of the way they look, we are already doing something wrong. Circumcision shouldn't fall into this discussion at all, taking into account how painful and life altering the procedure is. 

Parents should not have the right to perform cosmetic surgery on their child without the child's consent. That is why circumcision is truly a human rights issue. Something got messed up along the way, and our children are being cut up because of flawed thinking and money-hungry doctors. People will say that I am being dramatic and emotional. Yes, I am! It's not a bad thing to feel pain when you see injustice. Just like slavery. Just like the sex trafficking. People are being hurt, and I can't stand by and be quiet. Just because our parents, or our doctors, think it's a good idea, that doesn't make them right! Over 100 children die yearly from complications with circumcisions. Die! And we're still choosing to do it, this elective, cosmetic surgery on a helpless infant? I refuse to accept it as okay. 

Now, if you're still with me, thank you! I appreciate your hearing me out. I am very tough on this subject, but to be honest it's not me, it's the procedure. The procedure is tough. The videos are tough. The facts are tough, and we all need to know them. What I want to end this with is very important. I do not think that parents that circumcise are bad parents, although I think they are making a terrible mistake, and I have cried for their babies. So many women that I talk to refuse to hear anything of value that I have to say, because they feel that they have to defend the decision they have already made. That is the kind of thinking that is dangerous. We have to be able to admit when we've done something wrong. We have to feel the guilt, and then move on. We have to feel it! Guilt is not a bad thing. Being wrong is not so terrible that you have to live in denial and pretend it never happened. Guilt enables us to look at things through new eyes, with our hearts, and make new decisions. If you still think that circumcision is fine, and you don't regret your choice to do so, I don't know what else to say. I know that I have many friends that circumcise and probably resent me for writing this. I don't think that you are a bad parent, and I'm sure you love your children. But I will never agree with you, and I am going to live the rest of my life with the intention of seeing an end to infant circumcision around the world. Because to me, and many, many others, it is illogical, unnecessary, and unethical. And as a parent that circumcised her first son based on a false understanding of the procedure, I am angry at the amount of misinformation out there, and I will do everything I can to stop its spread and save as many precious babies as I can.

August 31, 2011

The home birth of Melody Grace (2008)

I knew before I even got pregnant that I wanted a natural birth this time. The hospital birth of my son was a parade of intervention after intervention, which led to a much longer and more painful recovery than is necessary in a normal birth. Going into the hospital changed my birth from a perfectly healthy, normal occurrence into a medical situation in which my body was assumed to be incapable of birthing on its own. I knew then that it wasn't right, but I wasn't educated enough to stand up for myself. This time I knew I would fight to make it different. My plan was to birth with a midwife in a birth center, but I soon came to find that Dayton, Ohio doesn't have any freestanding birth centers. Home birth wasn't even an option at first. It took many books and stories to allow me to even entertain the idea, and then I was sure I'd have to have a midwife here directing the entire process. By the time I began researching midwives to do home births I was past 30 weeks pregnant, and we had hit some financial problems. Now we couldn't afford a traditional midwife, and there were no birth centers. I was so stubborn about going to the hospital that I would say, "I'm just having the baby at home by myself!" My husband was quite sure that the idea of a home birth was some fad I was trying to fall in line with, and hopefully this crazy hormone-induced desire would quickly fade away. I'd just sit in silence and hope the day would come when I'd go into labor and we just "didn't make it to the hospital in time". I started researching home births and unassisted births even more and realized that a midwife was not necessary in the birthing process at all - when my body wanted to push out the baby it would push her out whether I was ready or not, and whether a midwife was encouraging me or not. I became really confident in my ability to have the baby naturally with no medical assistance, but my husband was not okay with that idea.After many arguments we stopped discussing it. One night he came to me and said he had done a little research on his own about hospital births in America and was now completely supportive of me having her at home, he was just scared of there being nobody there that really knew what was going on. We asked a good friend of mine to come who had had a home birth herself (with a midwife) a year and a half ago. She had a friend that had attended some births as a lay midwife, but wasn't really doing them now, as she was working full time and couldn't guarantee that she could make it. She said she would come at the end - for the birth - if she could. That was good enough for me.

I really thought the baby was going to be early, but 40 weeks came and went without the slightest contraction. I didn't go to the doctor anymore after 40 weeks, because I knew they would push really hard for an induction, and I knew that she was perfectly healthy. 42 weeks came and went and I began to let others' concerns worry me. What if I reached 43 weeks? Was I endangering my baby? Was it a bigger risk to let her stay in to 43 or 44 weeks, or to get induced? She was still moving like crazy, and that was my assurance that right then she was still fine. I prayed a lot, begging God to let me go into spontaneous labor NOW, because I was losing my confidence.

Saturday, August 2nd, I had a clear mucous-y discharge all day, but I didn't realize that it was my mucous plug because it wasn't bloody at all. That night around 10:30 my husband went over to a friend's house and I started having contractions. They were only about 5-7 minutes apart, and they hurt - but I played a game of cards with my sister and picked up the house a little. I wasn't sure if they were going to stop or not so I didn't want to get my hopes up. I knew that my husband was going to a movie around midnight, and at 1:30 I called him and told him that I was having contractions and they weren't slowing down, and they were getting more intense. He couldn't hear me, and said he'd be home by 3. I laid in my bed for most of the contractions, on my side. They were so much stronger than I had anticipated. I had envisioned the labor to be easy at home, and in the dim-lit bathroom I would take a bath and listen to soft music while I quietly moaned through my contractions. It was nothing like that! They started so intense that I didn't want to move - at all. I couldn't go to the bathroom, I had no desire to get in the water, and I didn't really want to be touched. It just hurt. At 3:15am I called my friend over and she and my sister let me labor privately in my room while they cleaned my house :) She told me to moan a deep "o" through the contractions, to open up my cervix. High pitch noises or panicky painful yells tend to close up your body. So I began "o-ing", and I "O-ed" through every contraction for the next 4 hours. When it got really intense I was yelling "O". I have no idea how my 2 year old slept through it just a hallway away. Dominic still wasn't home at 4 and I got really mad. His phone was dead or off, and I had no idea what he was doing. By 5 am I was ready to divorce him, and he came running up the stairs to see if I was okay. Apparently his friend's car had broken down and he'd been walking for the last couple hours. His phone was dead. I was still mad at him but happy he was there. He rubbed my back and tried his hardest not to laugh at my "o's". At about 6:30 The contractions were so intense and there was so little break between them that I didn't think I could go on. I knew I was too far along to get an epidural if I did go to the hospital, but I was sure I couldn't last any longer. I was so miserable. At this point my friend told me to go pee, which made me mad because I knew it would help but I had no idea how I was going to get to the bathroom. So I crawled, stopping along the way to yell through each contraction. I hadn't made it to the toilet by the time the second friend showed up; I was still on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor. I didn't know how far along I was - I couldn't check myself and I was really annoyed because I didn't know when to push. I had anticipated the intense "urge to push" that everybody talks about, but it really wasn't very strong for me. I got really scared and panicky, because the pain was so intense and I didn't think it was ever going to end. This was transition, which even though I thought I had prepared for, I completely forgot about when it was happening and assumed I was just dying :)

I stood up against the sink so her heart rate could be checked with the Doppler, and of course it was just fine. I turned around to face the sink and began pushing with the next contraction - mostly to see if it did anything that I could notice. All of a sudden my water popped -more like exploded - under me. It was so weird - it was really that huge gush you see in the movies. Looking back I don't understand why that happened, because at that point she should have been engaged so well in my pelvis there should have only been a bare trickle. Anyway, it gave me some hope that this was finally progressing, and I pushed again with the next contraction. I felt her head moving down in the birth canal finally, and I sort of freaked out. I pushed continuously for minutes (I have no idea how long this actually took) until she was all out, but it was in vain, because she was coming out slowly and carefully, even though I was trying to get her out as quickly as possible. I think this caused me to tear a little bit. I just wanted it to be over so badly.

My husband caught her in his hands at 7:33 am on Sunday morning, August 3rd! Once she was out and I knew Dominic had her I didn't even look - I immediately leaned into the sink and started bawling. I couldn't believe it was finally over! I didn't think I was strong enough the whole time I was doing it. I was so miserable - and once she was out I fell apart out of the relief that it was over. I felt so accomplished - I seriously was Superwoman! Everything was working against me, and everything still worked perfectly. That's the power of my God's design! After a moment I sat down on the bathroom floor and held her, and I'd say 5 minutes after she was born I pushed the placenta out. When the cord stopped pulsing we clamped and cut it, and then everyone helped Melody and I to MY bed and we stayed there all day. It was so nice to be home, in my own bed. It looked like the placenta may have been missing some pieces. Throughout that first day I passed 3 or 4 clots, and one of them was huge - like grapefruit size. My friend looked through it, and our general idea was that the placenta was coming out in these clots. At one point that day I tried to walk to the bathroom and I passed out on my way back - my husband caught me and carried me back to the bed. I was very light-headed and dizzy those first 2 days, even just sitting up. We assumed it was normal, and probably from the blood clots. About 3 days later I had almost stopped bleeding. Then I finally went downstairs for the first time, and moving around for the next couple of days caused me to start bleeding again. I didn't feel well, and even though I assumed it was normal I didn't like how bad I felt. I was very dizzy, and when I stood up for more than a minute or two I got very sick feeling all over. I just generally felt unwell.

8 days after the birth, Monday morning, I was a wreck. I felt the worst I had ever felt - like my whole body was shutting down. I thought it was because I had been doing too much walking up and downt he stairs, but I had planned to go to the doctor that day anyway for a check up (this day I had an appointment for Melody and I to both be seen for the first time - she was perfectly healthy and I saw no reason to take her around a bunch of sick kids just for the doctor to tell me she was healthy, which I already knew.). We spent 4 hours there waiting for my blood results, where they said that my iron was really low and I needed to take some iron and get some sleep. Then they discovered I had a low fever of 101, which prompts the concern of infection, so an ultrasound was done to check for placenta that would be causing it. There was placenta in my uterus still, which was a big shock to me because I had stopped bleeding so quickly and my uterus had clamped down really well immediately after delivery. She said I would have to have surgery that night and be in the hospital on antibiotics for a couple of days. I started freaking out. It was terrifying to me, and I didn't know how my husband would care for both kids at home, or if I could be away from my newborn that long. I was really scared of being put to sleep. The procedure was a D&C, and it sounded really horrible to me. It ended up being a very easy surgery - I didn't remember a thing and I didn't have any pain afterward. I did lose a great deal of blood during the surgery, which lessened my already very low hemoglobin count, so the next day they gave me a blood transfusion. They kept me through that second night, and I came home Wednesday morning.

I was definitely not expecting to have any complications after the birth, so all of these things were a huge shock and disappointment to me. We decided not to share any of this with out families - I didn't want anybody to think I had made a bad decision with the home birth. The fact is that this would have happened whether I was in the hospital or at home, only in the hospital they would have caught it before I left instead of me having to wait a week before discovering there was a problem. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have changed a thing about my birth. The home birth in no way caused the placental retention. I am so ecstatic that she was born at home. My birth was painful but so empowering, and my recovery was hard but the doctors knew how to put my body back in balance. I am so thankful for everyone that was involved in entire 2 weeks, doctors included. It was amazing, and I feel blessed to have been able to do it, especially with how hard the American medical system is trying to make it practically illegal.

Melody Grace Gorski was approximately 8lb 11oz, 20.5 inches long. She is gorgeous :) The doctors were worried because she was 42 weeks and 3 days late, but she wasn't late at all. She is so perfect and healthy. She was exactly on time.

My body is not a lemon. 

May 28, 2011

The Issue with Pink, and Other Girly Things

Last night I painted Julian's fingernails pink. I had painted Melody's, and he asked if I would paint his as well. I couldn't think of a good reason not to. I ran numerous excuses through my head, because I truthfully did not want to paint his nails. But none of the excuses seemed rational. I didn't want to just tell him no, when he saw Melody enjoying it so much, and she and I having this special bonding moment. If I said no, I had to be sure it would make sense to him, and not hurt his feelings or convey the message that girls get to do a bunch of fun things that boys don't.

"Boys don't paint their nails." Why? Why do girls? Because it looks nice? What if a boy wants his hands to look nice, too? Society says that I can trim his nails, maybe even file them and trim his cuticles. But I shouldn't put polish on a boy. I couldn't put "no" in a way that I felt he would understand, so I went ahead and painted them. In the back of my mind I was thinking about upcoming public outings, and knew that he was done with school and that we didn't have any plans until church on Sunday. I would have some time to figure out how to explain to him why we would take it off before church. I considered offering to paint his toes instead, but knew he would just ask why I didn't want to paint his fingers and I'd still need to answer the same question.

I thought about offering him a different color, like blue. But I realized that I'd be telling him essentially that certain colors are appropriate for girls and not for boys, which is a stereotype I've been trying to break since he was taught it recently (from kids at school, I assume). I don't want to raise a kid that's rude to other people, judging their appearances based on trivial things. I don't want him to ever be ashamed of playing with a baby doll or loving music, art or dancing more than sports. I want him to be confident in himself and not worried about liking the wrong color or activity, because all of those stereotypes lead to the same place, in my opinion.

BUT we live in a society that will make fun of and judge him for anything that can be viewed as feminine. If he chooses to pursue more feminine interests, the teasing could have a really negative impact on his life. So I gave him a little disclaimer before I applied the first coat, and said "Boys don't normally wear nail polish. You've never seen daddy wear nail polish have you?". I didn't say it condescending, but simply wanted to inform him of society's norm. He didn't respond, so I painted.

I had forgotten that he had a soccer game this morning, and on our way he said "Oh no! My nails are still painted! I need to get it off!" My mind went in two directions at once - concerned that he was worried about being made fun of, but glad that he understood that he might be. I don't want to raise children that aren't aware of society's expectations. I won't raise my kids to believe that they must adhere to them, but I don't want them to be naive about the world. However, I quickly chose the stance of "Don't worry what other people think about you. If you like your nails pink, don't let someone else make you feel bad because they are". He then said "I can say they're like Pink Panther." (Julian has recently become obsessed with the classic TV show). I said "That's a great idea!" But inwardly I cringed.

He's making excuses to justify to others why he's done something for himself.

I am really torn on the subject. In many ways I am conservative, and I know Dominic shares my desire that our boys don't wear nail polish. But what does that desire stem from, and is it more important than teaching our kids to love and respect themselves as individuals? That is a skill that I haven't yet learned for myself, but I know that it would have improved my life in so many ways if I had! To live without worrying about what other people think of you - I can't even imagine the freedom! I would LOVE for my children to be confident in the fact that God made them perfect and with unique skills and interests, and that other people are generally jerks that shouldn't even be worried about. My only question should really be "Does God have a problem with my son wearing nail polish?". If anyone has the answer to that, please let me know. But for now, I'm leaning towards "no".

I realized that painted nails don't make him girly. They don't make him a possible transgendered person. They don't make him gay. Yes, these are lifestyles that, to be perfectly honest, as a Christian mother, I hope he doesn't choose later in life. But pink nails don't mean any of those things. They mean that right now, a five year old boy wanted to share in a fun activity with his mom and little sister. I can't see how telling him that he's not allowed to wear nail polish could have had any positive effects.

March 17, 2011

The Mess That is Our Love, and the Choices That We Must Make

I have never been on my own. Ever. I went straight from my dad's house to my sister's house at sixteen, then to Dominic's mom's house after I became pregnant with Julian, and finally to an apartment with Dominic in Texas. We've been on our own for five years, but sometimes I feel just as clueless as I was at the beginning of it all. I haven't grown as much in that time as I could have, and it's largely due to the fact that I am incredibly co-dependent on Dominic. And he is co-dependent on me, so the two of us have stayed in this little bubble, knowing only each other, for all these years. We have driven each other crazy because we won't/don't want to  grow up, but we know we'll always take the other back because we are just as immature ourselves. It's nice to have someone to depend on when you feel all alone in the world, with children that you're not really sure what to do with, and family that is 2,000 miles away. But with it comes a price - the price of not growing as individuals. This isn't necessarily our own choice. I can think of many times that Dominic has wanted to do things, to expand himself in some way, and I have prevented him from doing so. I haven't wanted him to get too happy, when I wasn't happy. I haven't wanted him to get to a better place in his life than I am, because for me to feel that I am better than him is a way to stay in control. And I am a control freak. There have been times when I've wanted to learn about things or pursue job opportunities, and while Dominic was always supportive he was always somewhat mocking me underneath. We had both failed each other so many times that we had no confidence in the other person to change or improve themselves in any way. Having that in the back of our minds made it easy for me to quit anything at any time, because I knew that he expected me to quit. We have been in a bubble - a self destructive bubble for five years locked in this web of equally loving and hating each other.

February 09, 2011

The Green BEAN

I recently signed up for Green BEAN delivery, and I just received my first box of groceries today! I wanted to share about my experience and what I got, because I know other people may be interested in a service like this but nervous to take the first step without really knowing how much food you'll be getting (like I was). I've been aware of these produce delivery organizations for a couple of years now and really wanted to give them a try, but only finally made the leap this time because I got a deal through Groupon for a $35 Green BEAN box for only $15! What a steal!

These home deliveries are generally from local, organic farms, but Green BEAN gets food from many different farms (across the whole Midwest region) so you have a larger selection, but are still supporting farmers. Most of the ones I was aware of offered random produce boxes, so you'd be getting different fruits and veggies each time and not necessarily having a say in what's in them. The customizable bins are more expensive. I did not like the idea of getting random produce that I may not like or know how to prepare, like kale or something! But Green BEAN allows customization with all of their different sized bins and options. There were about 40 different things I could choose from, and in the winter I think that's pretty impressive!

Customizing the bin was awesome, as I was able to meal plan for my week, make a shopping list, and then add the items that I knew I would be needing. Having three kids and a deployed husband makes shopping my most dreaded task right now, and since I prefer things organic, but also cheap, in any given week I can find myself shopping at the commissary, Meijer, and Trader Joe's just to get the items I'm looking for! It gets pretty ridiculous running all over town just because the commissary has cheap frozen organic food and snacks, but Meijer has a better selection of fresh organic produce and Trader Joe's has the meat, pasta, and soda I want! It can also be challenging to find organic produce besides apples and bananas in local stores - their selection often is very limited and changes frequently, so when one week I can get organic lemons at Meijer, they may not be back for a number of months.

The other thing that I love about Green BEAN is that you can add onto your produce order other organic products, like meats, soups, sauces, crackers, etc. Things that I have to hunt for in the store I can easily add to my order through Green BEAN and have it delivered to my door!  The prices on these commercially produced organic products is comparable to what I find at the commissary and at Meijer, so I thought it was well worth it to have delivered essentially for free :)

I am not sure about the cost of the produce, though. I feel like I got a good amount for my $35, but I can't really be sure without checking out each item in the store, which I'll probably never have time to do. Here are pictures and information on everything I received today. Let me know if you think the price was reasonable! Remember that all items are organic and were delivered to me.

Everything arrived in a green bin. You do not have to be home for the delivery, as everything is packed with Styrofoam and  ice packs to keep cold things cold (the fact that the weather outside is freezing certainly doesn't hurt at all!).

These are the only "extras" I got this time, but I plan to get more meats next time.
-16 oz Sea Salt $3.95
-19 oz homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (SO excited about this! No funky fake sugars. Made at an Ohio farm and the label says "With God All Things Are Possible") $3.95
-16 oz Organic Alphabet Pasta (colored with vegetables) $3.75
-1.3 lbs Local Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage $5.95 (same price as the stuff I usually get at Meijer but with far fewer ingredients!)

And all of the organic produce:
-2 White onions (they gave me 3 for some reason)
-1 Clove garlic (they gave me 2 for some reason) (I like this because garlic is one of those things that isn't available organic in any store, even Trader Joe's)
-1 lb Carrots
-2 lbs Broccoli
-4 Fuji Apples (these were a little on the small side)
-2 Bosc Pears (they gave me 3?)
-3 Royal Mandarins
-3 lb bag Russet Potatoes
-3 Pink Florida Grapefruits
-8 oz Salad - Mixed Greens (this was more than I had expected it to be)
-1 bunch Italian Parsley
-4.5 oz Green Onions (the same package I get in the store)
-2 lbs Bananas (came out to only 5 bananas, a little less than I had hoped for. They are still light green and waiting for bananas to ripen is annoying because we use them so often)

What are your thoughts? I love the delivery idea. I love the impressive selection of organic products. And I love that the food is coming directly from farmers. I think I may continue to receive boxes every other week (you can customize the frequency with which you want bins delivered, and can always change the size you want). I hope this helped anyone who has been interested in these services but wanted to hear someone else's experience first!

February 08, 2011

The Sixth Finger

I've wanted to write about this for a long time, but haven't been able to muster the courage until now. Many of you know, but many of you don't, that Adrian has 11 fingers. Sort of. He has a sixth finger on his right hand, but it is fused with his pinkie, so it looks like this:

I noticed it before anyone else a moment after he was placed in my arms after his birth. I was stunned. I remember his hand looking strange to me, but it took me a few moments to figure out what looked so wrong with it. It's been surprisingly unnoticeable to others. The day he was born we let him get a physical examination from a pediatrician, since I was in the hospital anyway, and they did a full body exam, and even put a pulse monitor on his right hand, and didn't notice the extra finger. They were walking out the door when I had to say "Um, can we talk about his finger?". Friends have had similar experiences, where they'll hold him for a while and never notice until I mention it. It stands out loud and in- my- face, though, whenever I glance at it.