Sunday, May 30, 2010

Is she pushing yet? And an interesting post

When I was in the hospital with my client on Thursday, the waiting room was packed with families. There was one particular family, where there was not just one or two people waiting, it was the parents on both sides, siblings,...altogether about 7 or 8 people. They were sitting around shmoozing and waiting for the baby to be born, asking for updates every 10 minutes. They told me they do this for every birth in the family.
Personally, I was a bit taken aback. Labor is intense enough without knowing that there are 7 people outside waiting for you to just hurry up and have your baby already. And labor can be a slow process, definitely not something you can speed up at whim.
One of the pioneers in the natural childbirth movement, French physician Michele Odent, talks about the privacy of childbirth. When a woman feels private and unobserved in labor, it allows her to feel comfortable in her surroundings and helps her labor to progress and unfold. While these family members were not in the room with the laboring woman, I wondered how if affected her to know they were all there.
When I am in labor, my husband and I don't call or tell anyone until the baby is born. The only people who know are usually the ones taking care of my other child(ren). We found that this works best so we don't have to worry about other people being nervous or waiting for updates. I can just focus on what I need to do.
But like my husband likes to remind me, not everyone thinks the way I do about labor and childbirth- and about life in general. Maybe this woman actually felt incredibly supported knowing that her extended family was there, waiting for her and cheering her on. Or maybe she was as frustrated as I imagined her being, when her husband got the 20th text message, asking if they were up to pushing yet. I guess I'll never know.
Speaking of childbirth, check out this interesting post at The Feminist Breeder about the importance of preparing for childbirth, versus just hoping for the best. She has some compelling arguments for being well educated in a good childbirth education class and for hiring a doula.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2 exciting updates

Two exciting things going on in my life.
One is the beautiful Dell Laptop that just arrived today and that I am currently using to type this blog post!! I was long overdue for a laptop and was going to hold off until my birthday in July but since my husband will be working from home for most of the summer, it was getting a little impossible to get near the computer. Happy early birthday to me! So far so good. It actually is pretty large with a big screen but I don't mind because I am not planning on lugging it around with me anyway. And it's purple. Another way to ensure that I will be the one using it :)
The second event this week actually preceded the arrival of the laptop was the twin birth I attended on Thursday! It was a very last minute thing and I did not actually get to see much of the births at all but it was a very educational experience. I learned that at New York Presbyterian-Cornell the policy for twins is to deliver in the OR even if it is a vaginal delivery "just in case" they need a cesarean. Great vote of confidence. The truth is that I think this is the policy in most hospitals.
This was the women's third (!) set of twins, the other two were delivered vaginally. Things moved very fast and she actually had her first baby in the regular delivery room, because the doctors were not expecting her to give birth just yet. After Baby A (a girl) was born they made the decision to give her an epidural and move her to the Operating Room. Unfortunately, Baby B (a boy) was a cesarean. I did not get the details because I was not allowed in, but thankfully both babies and the mother are doing great.
I was very impressed with the woman's husband. He was very supportive of his laboring wife and actually advocated very strongly for her. They felt they were not being treated well by their nurse so he asked for a new nurse. He also asked for the pitocin to be turned down while they were waiting for the anesthesiologist to come administer the epidural. Not everyone always has the confidence to contradict or challenge medical staff, even when necessary.
Never a dull moment in my life. Looking forward to many more (hopefully funny and insightful) posts from my new laptop! And comments- did I mention that I like comments? Especially when it's not just my family members :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Babies bounce back

On Sunday, Baby M took a tumble and hit his nose. His loud screams alerted me to the fact that this was not just a little bump. Sure enough there was blood pouring out of his nose as he grabbed on to me for dear life and wailed. I tried rocking him, giving him water, just holding him but he was still crying. Finally after 2 or 3 minutes he accepted the pacifier I gave him and snuggled close to me. We sat there like that for a bit and he even let me wipe the blood off his face, some of it anyway. After five more minutes, he climbed off my lap and went on his merry way. Chasing after his brother and sister, throwing the ball, laughing again.
It amazes me how quickly children bounce back. One minute they are crying and tantruming, the next that beautiful smile is back on their face. It is a trait we adults could stand to adopt. We usually harbor resentments, wallow in our supposed misery, when really we could shake it off and be happy again, laugh carefree like a 2 year old. I know that's a very simplistic and unrealistic perspective but is it really so crazy to just let thing go every once in a while? Just a thought.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The 2 Doula Prenatal Meeting

This monday, I attended a prenatal meeting for a client with another doula. I am "sharing" this client with my friend K because K is going to be away for part of the 2 week period after her client's due date and I will be on call for her then. I had never attended a prenatal meeting with someone else and I have to say it was fun and educational. I know the way I like to do/structure things when I meet with clients but it was interesting to see how K runs her meetings. It was pretty similiar but I still learned some new things. And I felt that I was able to offer some valuable feedback as well.
An interesting thing K spoke about was comparing progress in labor to an elevator ride rather than taking the steps. When you walk up steps, you need to pass every floor to get to the 10th floor, one thing follows the other. When you take an elevator, you can skip from 4 to 7 or even 10. Things in labor may be slow at first but then all of sudden you can go from 6 cm to fully dilated in a half hour. It is a good way to look at things and not to be discouraged by an apparent lack of progress or things temporarily slowing down.

On a completely different note, I just need to vent about the lack of efficiency at the board of education. I submitted paperwork and a request for a meeting on April 19th. I have called and left messages an average of 1-2 times a week and what do you think has happened? Nada. Not even a phone call to acknowledge the receipt of my paperwork or numerous messages. I am not sure what the point of this is. They will have to respond to me sooner or later. Why don't they just call back? Do they prefer to be harassed and stalked because I can and will do that. Do they think I am just going to go away if they ignore me long enough? They obviously do not know who they are dealing with...anyway, I think I may actually feel better now that I got that off my chest :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book recommendation

I just spent the last 2 days reading The Official Lamaze Guide- Giving Birth with Confidence as part of my preparation for my childbirth education certification. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first and wondered what the point of reading yet another birth book was, being that I have done quite a lot of reading already.
I was pleasantly surprised. The authors do a great job of outlining the basic process of labor and childbirth. They also have interesting chapters about wellness in pregnancy and choosing a care provider and place of birth.
I really liked their explanation of the purpose of pain in labor. They explain it much more eloquently, butin short- pain ensures that you know your baby is coming and can prepare yourself. It also forces you to move and work with the pain. This movement is exactly what the baby needs to move lower down in the birth canal and to be positioned optimally for birth. Lastly, the pain and the way you cope with it sets off the hormonal interplays of oxytocin, endorphin and prolactin that are necessary for the baby to be born. Pretty cool stuff.
The authors also quote a lot of studies and back most of their claims up with scientific research.
They intersperse birth stories amongst the chapters which always makes things more entertaining. All in all an informative and interesting read. I would definitely recommend it to expectant parents because it covers most topics and so they would be able to get all the information they need in just one compact book.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm still here

I know you will find this hard to believe, but I just haven't really had any great insights this week so nothing spectacular to share. Just busy preparing for Shavuos- cooking, making lists and shopping for last minute things. Oh, and the sweater I have been working on forever is almost done. Just need to sew the pieces together...and wait about 6 months to be able to wear it :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Safe Babywearing

I have to admit that when I first started "wearing" my kids in baby carriers it was mostly for utilitarian purposes. With my first two, I really did not use any baby carriers. When Baby M was born, I had a double stroller and 2 toddlers who refused to walk. I had heard rave reviews about the Ergo Baby Carrier, so I bought one and thus started my babywearing adventure. The Ergo was extremely comfortable and so I pretty much wore M everywhere for the first six months of his life. At some point I also bought a Moby wrap which I like too, but mostly I just used the Ergo.
Having become certified as a doula and done more reading on this topic, I was well aware of the benefits of babywearing- calmer babies, less crying and fussing, creating connection between mother and baby. I have to say that I really have seen that with M. He has always been a very happy baby and does not cry much unless he is hungry or tired. He is now 16 months old and while I mostly use the stroller now for him, I still wear him about two or three times a week, mostly when I am going on a bus with the kids or have other stroller-less errands to run. He still loves being in the Ergo. When he sees me put it on, he starts smiling broadly. I love wearing him because like this I still get to cuddle and be close to him. Wearing him in the front carry position is the perfect position to give him lots of kisses and hugs and to talk to him while we are walking.
Recently, babywearing has gotten a bad reputation due to the sling that was recalled. It is important to differentiate between one sling that was not safe versus babywearing in general, which is very safe, assuming one follows some basic rules.
At the workshop that I took last week, one of the women presented on the topic of safe babywearing. Most of the things she said are pretty much common sense:
1) A baby should be as upright as possible, whether one is using a carrier, sling or wrap.
2)The baby should be close to the mother, so she can see him at all times.
3) There should not be any fabric covering the baby's mouth or nose.
4)If you are using a wrap, make sure the fabric is not loose, rather pulled rightly towards your body and be sure that you have secured the wrap well with a tight knot.
5) Most importantly one should make sure that the baby's chin is not tucked in towards his or her neck as that can obstruct breathing. If you tuck your own chin under, you will notice that it is harder to breathe that way.

For more information on babywearing, check out Metrominis on the Upper East Side. They give free classes in babywearing and have every carrier/wrap/sling imaginable. Speaking of Metrominis, there will be a Doula Open House there this coming Thursday night. Doulas from Birthfocus, myself included, will be there from 7 pm to 8 30 pm to meet potential clients and answer any questions you may have. Come check us out!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Counting my blessings

Y is thankfully recovering well from his procedures. Yesterday he was up to his usual shenanigans and we went to the park in the afternoon.

When we were at the park, we met another family whose son has down syndrome. He was a cute little 2.5 year old boy who was playing on the slide. His father approached me and started asking me questions abt Y. He told me that Y looks great and was very impressed with the way Y was carrying himself, the way he was running around the park independently. I took another look at my little boy and there he was, chasing the birds yet again, having a great time, like all the other kids at the park.

An hour later we ran into a couple we know from the neighborhood. We were just chatting while our kids were digging around in the sandbox, when the husband said to me, "You know, Y looks really great." The whole thing was kind of ironic to me because 48 hours ago, he had been lying in bed moaning after his surgery, but right now in the sandbox, he really did look good. Happy and healthy.

I will admit that I am usually a "glass-half-empty" kind of person. I have a tendency to notice the things that are missing, rather than focusing on what I do have. It is a flaw I am aware of and trying to change, little by little. I want to appreciate my children and my husband and not think about the mess they made or the fact that he is late again (so cliche but so true...). It is hard and requires conscious effort. But speaking to these strangers and acquaintances in the park made me realize that maybe it is not so hard after all. If they can see the beauty and growth in my child, then I definitely should. I should stop thinking about the fact that Y does not know how to hop, ride a bike or talk in full sentences and focus on all the amazing things he can do: chase the pidgeons, swing on the big kids swing, navigate the park more of less on his own. He can communicate his needs and loves everything connected to Judaism. I could go on and on but you get the picture.

So here is to becoming more aware of the blessings in our lives and appreciating the little moments, one at a time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Thankfully, everything went well today. Y went in at 8 am but it took longer than expected and they were not done till close till 10am. I got to go into the OR with him and stayed there till he fell asleep. He was scared and was fighting the sleep mask. It was hard seeing him like that.
He had a difficult time waking up from the anesthesia- crying, thrashing, etc. but that is normal. We had to stay in the hospital for a few hours to make sure he was okay. The nurses also wanted him to drink a certain amount before discharge but Y was too tired and cranky and refused to drink. Finally at 2 o clock they let us go.
He spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping but tomorrow I need to make sure to keep him hydrated. I am just happy to be on the other side of things. I hope his recovery is relatively smooth. Thanks to everyone who had us in mind.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Y is having surgery tomorrow morning at 8 30 am. Please have us in mind. For those of you, who want to daven (pray), his Hebrew name is Yedidya Shlomo ben Rachel Nechama. For those of you who don't pray, send us good thoughts and hugs. Will update later tomorrow when I have a minute.
Oh and just because my life is sometimes ridiculous, the pediatrician called us yesterday to tell us it is time to go see an endocrinologist abt Y's thyroid because his bloodtest results were a bit funky. Fun times.

Lamaze- Day 3 and back to reality

Yesterday was the last day of my training. Most of the day was spent reviewing other people's presentations on short topics. I did "The Labor Bag"- what to bring to the hospital. I filled a bag with items one may need in labor and that had the others in the group take stuff out of the bag and see what the item is, and why we would need it in labor. I got good feedback, which was exciting because I was really nervous. We spoke about writing a course design/curriculum and what we had gained from the class. We also took each other's cards so we could be in touch and network.
Now it's back to reality- scheduling doctor's appointments and CPSE reviews. Getting ready for Y's surgery. Laundry. Dinner. The wonders of being a stay at home mom. Except now I have a lot of homework to do- like reading a 700 page study guide to prepare for the exam.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lamaze- Day 2

There is so much I want to post but, honestly, I am just too tired. Two full 8-5 days of a workshop will do that to you. It is far from boring but it is just hard to sit, and I keep moving around, shifting positions.
Some highlights of today were- making choices about our ideal birth and then thinking about how we would feel is 1 or 2 or 10 of the things we wanted did not happen.
We spoke about breastfeeding and its advantages. About postpartum issues and time management. We discussed different positions for labor as well as the Fear-Pain-Tension theory.
Tomorrow we all have to present a topic for 5 minutes. I am doing "The Labor Bag" and have my goodies all packed and ready to go.
I am sorry if this is not so coherent. if you are wondering why I am not making sense, just reread the first sentence on my being really tired...I feel like I am learning a lot in this course but I also realize that I have a lot more work to do. Write my own course design/curriculum. Go through the Lamaze Study Guide. Study for the exam. It seems that this will be a long term project. The next time the exam will be given is in october and I hope to be ready to take it by then. I guess we will see.
Tomorrow is day three. It is odd for me to be out of the house and away from my kids all day. Everyone is doing fine thanks to my husband, in laws and a few great babysitters. It is helpful to know everyone is taken care of, so I can just relax and take in as much information as possible.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lamaze- Day 1

Bright and early at 8 am I made my way to the first day of my three day childbirth educator traning. We spent a while getting to know each other and everyone has a story to tell about how they became involved in the birth comunity. What is interesting is that of the 16 attendees, 4 of us were Orthodox Jews. We quickly connected and talked shop about communities and other things we have in common. It's a fun game called jewish geography we all like to play.
The teacher of this course, Teri Shilling, is a wonderful woman who has made it her mission to, and I quote, "stomp out boring childbirth ed". Check out her website- Passion for Birth. She comes equipped with lots of fun props and games to make the learning interactive and interesting.
Some of the things we covered today was, ways to keep your classes interesting, things to keep in mind about attention span and retention. We discussed that the goal of education is to affect a change, to give people new information that may or may not make them reevaluate certain assumptions they have. We spoke of the importance of confidence in childbirth (vs fear and tension).
We also covered the Six Healthy Birth Practices that are the key philosophy of Lamaze. They really deserve a post (or 2) of its own but in short, they are:
1) Let labor begin on its own
2) Walk, move around and change positions during Labor
3) Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support
4) Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
5) Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body's urges to push
6) Keep mother and baby together - It's best for mother, baby and breastfeeding
For more information about these practices and other interesting tidbits check out Lamaze.
Stay tuned for updates on the workshop.