on choosing and planning a homebirth

 photo F2AEEF49-7CC8-4EC8-BE92-B2305CEB52B1-2089-000000BD4107B83F_zps04d85281.jpg

 photo 276107D0-6F8F-4E22-91F7-09E6B8815ACF-2089-000000BD35C307B9_zpsfa78d43a.jpg

i’ve started this post over several times. i keep changing my mind about what i want to say about this life experience.

and i look up at these pictures above and i’m reminded why a home birth was the right choice for us, for this birth:

family.

family-centered care.

what i want to say is that after this experience i feel how much home birth needs to be a viable option for families.

and i don’t want to argue about safety or statistics.  really, i think that’s all bullshit. BIG BULLSHIT. the way i see it, someone figured out long ago that if they kept us fighting about which way of birthing is “safest” then no real work would have to be done to make ALL types of birth safer for mothers and babies.

because as it stands, ALL types of birth in this country, and this world, could be made safer.

there is no right way to do this across the board. these decisions to birth are highly personal. it’s one of the reasons i do the work i do; to help parents achieve the births they desire for their experience and their family.

and now my simple wish is that the only standard across the board was the level of love and care i’ve received during this birth was available and experienced by all. and i don’t believe it has to be achieved only through home birth. i think it can be done through all types of birth. and i see glimmers of hope out there that maybe we’ll get there someday. but, yes, i believe home birth is part of that puzzle for piecing back together our maternal care system as a country.

because y’all, the gift my family has been given from this life experience is astounding. i’m forever changed from this. and i hope it will carry forth with me for all my years, taking the shape of more generous love and kindness for growing families.

please, universe, let me remember this for all of my days.

i look up at these pictures darla helped me draw a day before daphne entered our world and i’m thankful for the opportunity to include my daughter in the birth of her sister in the capacity that we were able to because of midwifery care and home birth. darla sometimes seems like more than a daughter to me. she’s my friend and a partner in some senses and she certainly was for this birth. although there were times that having her with me at appointments was a headache and i swear to the cosmos that she adds about 10 points to my blood pressure reading, i can’t imagine having done this without the high level of involvement on her part.

darla dictated to me how the birth would go down for these drawings: the baby would be born in the birth pool so baby and i would be in there and she and mike would be looking on from either side. she gave mike his correct facial hair and asked if i would help her draw “wild curly hair” on her because she “will probably have to be woken up because the baby will come during the night.”

she was wrong about the birth pool but she was oh-so-right about the wild curly hair. she wasn’t present during the actual birthing. she slept through it somehow but was woken up once daphne finally let out her first real lusty cries about 3 hours later. she ran into the room sleepy-eyed in a whirl of wild and curly golden hair, shyly beaming around the room at the arrival of her sibling.

it was the sweetest moment of my life thus far.

and i realized later that it was that moment that i was looking for from this birth experience. the moment when my oldest baby met my youngest baby in a hazy, golden glow. that moment that was of her choosing, in her own space, in her own skin {literally. she must have unclothed at some point in the night so she and her sister were in naught but their birthday suits upon their first meeting} free from hospital distractions and unfamiliar faces. it was THAT moment i was searching for and didn’t know it until it happened. that moment has planted itself within me and taken deep root. and it wouldn’t have been possible in any other setting than in our own home. and for that i am so grateful. i can’t find any other word for it other than gratitude.

and my husbeau. oh my sweet, beardy husbeau.

i told him i thought i might go into labor later and then he put on bob segar. and then i had my doubts about whether he’d be able to adequately support me through this because…bob segar.

but once my labor really kicked in he knew exactly what to do. he revealed to me later that he didn’t feel like he knew what to do but to me it appeared that he did. he was there with me when i needed him and gave me space when i didn’t. he was my grounding. during the moments that i thought labor was going to carry me away i would look over at him and it would bring me all back to center.

he was able to take care of me in a way that i don’t think would be possible for him in an unfamiliar setting. and he’s taken such good care of us these past few days in our own space. did you know he could make banana pancakes with peanut butter chips? he can. he’s been holding out on me all this time.

but that’s getting into the postpartum period which i wrote a little bit about already and plan on posting more about later…

so, yeah, home birth. this birth was all that i could have hoped for and more. it was the most amazing and wonderful thing that i hope NEVER happens to me again.

well, maybe not never ever again… ;-)

p.s. thanks for reading! please remember that i’m not trying to promote any one method of birthing. i’m only trying to relay my gratitude for this life experience. above all else, i believe in families choosing the way to birth their babies that seems right individually.  for us, for this birth, a birth at home was the absolute right choice.

now go forth and be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.

daphne’s home birth: a photo tour

ok, so it’s a dimly lit photo tour. we’ll call it ambiance.  or love aura. whatevs…

i’d like to highlight some of the things i loved about birthing our baby girl at home, in our own bed, with these few snaps from my phone. lucky you, nothing graphic will be shown as i was too busy with the actual birthing. i was able to capture one last maternity shot when labor was just getting started.

there was so much i was thankful for about being in our own space for laboring and birthing. i want to write a little bit more about the experience and process but i think that is for another time.

so we’ll flash forward to the immediate postpartum which, for us, seems to be bursting with benefits:

 photo 9B0918C6-B277-41A1-87FD-430E87B9ACAA-34685-00000C13F82E0FA9_zps5c9b66c9.jpg

^ the first being that we were given time and respect. our space and experience were honored. i have several photos of daphne just looking around the world for the longest time. it was all so peaceful and serene. at least for us. daphne has a bit of a what-the-heck-just-happened-to-me look going on.

 photo 3A79BA02-6718-415E-873D-85D60E13A771-34685-00000C13EC05C7ED_zps364503a7.jpg  photo D295B3AB-53B9-4EC8-A32C-FF1F83774BC7-34685-00000C13E59DF26C_zpsae292cae.jpg

^ all daphne’s measurements and exams were done in our bed, by our side.

 photo 415C65E1-8472-447B-9804-7627CC6FE67E-34685-00000C140F731DF3_zpsff0883c8.jpg

^mike got to be the one to give daphne her first “bath” which was just a washcloth rubdown

and we all got to hang out in various stages of undress holding miss Daphne:

 photo 56170D0F-9171-4C6B-81A9-3480B2950C34-34685-00000C13DE7E7A72_zpsbd26dc15.jpg

 photo 6664C161-AD38-48E7-BFA3-A9E02734EE4B-34685-00000C1444AE22A8_zpsc21c8e27.jpg photo 1F22E61F-3B9E-43ED-83C2-C5059BB18724-34685-00000C13D954BAAB_zps1b5b3cca.jpg

^and darla held daphne for the first time. darla’s thoughts on the experience: “she doesn’t smell very good.”

 photo 2E0350A0-D130-4616-A2B3-025A9EFA23A2-34685-00000C1427754FA9_zpsbe59785f.jpg

 ^home birth meant my parents could come and be with us and the lack of visiting hours has lead to lots of bonding time for everyone, which works well for our family.

 photo 1628E9FD-3167-4BC3-AC4B-F9A4C3F0B46B-34741-00000C15AC86D24A_zps82a04fcf.jpg

 photo 57845C74-506A-4292-AB58-8717454D314D-34685-00000C140883C91B_zps4a902b3b.jpg

and mostly we just sit around and stare at daphne josephine, completely comfortable and settled in to her home surroundings from minute one.

 photo D3E9FD1A-4669-41A0-BA9C-AC7F54699BEF-34741-00000C15B754922F_zps80d3dbaf.jpg photo 97FD1D3A-1C7D-4A43-B3C7-467B70417D5E-34741-00000C15BC92EBCB_zps13e8ce73.jpg

 our home birth = a home filled with love. a birth filled with love.

bump day

 photo 9C8A4A2C-C549-491D-856D-166E362AE3DD-34278-00000C0162614594_zpsa16f7378.jpg

i know, you thought bump day updates were over didn’t you?

well, i’m just still very much in love and in like with this midsection that has grown two people now. maybe i’ll just keep bump day up forever…hmmmmm….

no, BUT, maybe this is a start to something along the lines of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. we’ll see.

it’s my first bump day post-birth and things are looking very similar to 5 months pregnant. i don’t really mind carrying around the extra pooch for a bit. i think it would be too much of a change and a loss to go straight back to a pre-baby body. i’d like this little reminder to stick around for a while.

and yes, those are the tops of the adult diapers i’ve been rocking since daphne’s birth. i’m not ashamed to admit that i’ve been quite comfortably not hating this decision. ladies expecting babies, do yourself a favor and just give in to the adult diaper for your initial postpartum period. trust me.

I’m a magician

Because I turned this

last maternity photo

into this….

dap jo

 

Daphne Josephine is now a member of the Wrucker crew, living on the outside of my body and looking pretty cute while doing so.

we’re healthy, happy and well-cared for. i’m now enjoying all the baby snuggles and fun time after pains, along with those lovely, humbling things like starting a new breastfeeding relationship and relearning how to pass a newborn back and forth. sheesh.

life is a trip, man.

{ps. glad i had the where-with-all to snap one last maternity shot at the beginning of my labor, before things really took off}

bump day

baby belly pic

it’s a birthday baby bump post today. it’s hard for me to believe that the body holding that baby is 31 years old. i never thought i would get old.  the 30s are a weird decade where sometimes i feel much, much older than my years only to follow it up with feelings of eternal youth the next day.

anyway, i’ve enjoyed a day of rainy solitude for my 31st birthday. husbeau left me cinnamon rolls for breakfast and i’ve been catching up on household projects, rest and online work that was all put on the back burner during 6 long days of workshops and learning for my ventures into postpartum doula work and childbirth education. there’s a lot to unpack in this brain. i feel like i have a 50 item laundry list of things i want to get started on asap to further my career in birthwork.

but in the middle of it all, i’ve made sure to stop and spend time with this belly. i cannot believe it will be only a few short months before i meet the little person inside there.

journaling the maternal experience

 photo E5DBBF76-A5B0-4731-BF64-17002CB1401D-24036-000005FE1F94278D_zps1353a1e4.jpg

at a recent appointment with our midwives i discussed trying to find the balance between being connected to this birth and being controlling. with darla’s birth i believed that everything would be ok and all would be well, as nature intended. well, that’s actually a pretty good way to head into your first birth since things did end up pretty well. but i don’t feel like i really connected to my pregnancy with her ahead of time. i feel much more spiritually involved with this little one. however, i’m also feeling more aware of the possibilities of things that *could* go wrong and i’m having a harder time disconnecting from those thoughts. that ignorant bliss goes right out the window with naiveté once you’ve been doing birthwork for a while. it’s given me a lot of empathy for medical professionals given the fact that the majority of the births i’ve seen have been peaceful and natural.

so i decided journaling the rest of this pregnancy would be a good thing for me. i feel i’ve been involved with this pregnancy at a more heightened level and i need to make sure that continues to come from a good place and not a place of fear. because i do believe this natural act my body, baby and self are to perform in a few months will be lovely and healthy. i might just need a place to write that down daily as a reminder. and i believe that when actions are motivated by fear then they secondarily become motivated by control. i don’t need to control this life event. i need to experience it. i need to cling firmly to the faith that all will be normal, healthy and safe, as intended.

i have a few other things i’ve been practicing and/or plan on incorporating into birth prep that i’ll share here in time.  because having faith in the process doesn’t absolve me from doing work on my end to nourish my body, mind and baby. please stay tuned for future pregnancy work updates!

the doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

this post is part of an ongoing series called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers. each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i’m really excited to start this series and share the wisdom of these women with you.

i’d like to introduce my first west coast doula. Katie Hamilton has the distinction of being the first doula to buy one of my birth work t-shirts, other than myself! we connected through a mutual friend and now I’m honored to host her as my first left coast interviewee. Katie offers her support as Mama Nurture Birth Services in Los Angeles and the South Bay area. I present the doula wisdom of Katie Hamilton:

katiebabybellyKatie & her own beautiful baby belly

1. how long have you been a doula and what made you pursue doulahood?

At the age of 15, I finally got the news that I would have a sibling. I was involved right from the get go. From helping with the baby registry, to attending the Lamaze classes…I was there. I remember falling asleep on the vinyl couch in the hospital waiting room while doing my algebra homework. I was called in the room during pushing and got to experience the miracle of birth. Upon arriving home, I walked around the house reading the infamous “What to expect…” book to my mom. I was probably the rare teen that knew what meconium was, clipped my sisters fingernails, and knew what developmental stage we would be approaching next. To this day I sometimes refer to her as my “first baby”. I remember announcing then that I wanted to be a midwife. I didn’t end up becoming one but always looked forward to becoming a mother myself. I had my first daughter at the hospital with the midwives. Despite a good outcome and the normal, unmedicated birth that I wanted…I wasn’t completely satisfied with my experience. I begged the nurse to get in the shower, and was refused. In fact I was one of those unusual cases where I dilated from 2 to 10 in 2 hours and had they had sent me home like they wanted to I would have ended up having the baby out of the hospital. I had to be my own advocate when really I just wanted the staff to be my side, honor my instincts that told me exactly what I needed to birth my baby. I was a square peg in a round hole because I didn’t get the epidural that would make my labor more predictable and manageable. At last my midwife appeared (it was 3am), and insisted they open a room for me and allow me to use the shower. Well, within an hour and a half I was nursing my baby.

After that medicalized birth experience, I did my research, and decided that home birth would be the best option for me. I was the most incredible experience I could have ever hoped for. My home was my sanctuary. I had my favorite foods, my favorite flowers, positive affirmations to pause and look at on my walls, a warm tub, my little girl eagerly awaiting her sister, a supportive husband, and trusted midwives. My daughter was born peacefully in the water with her big sister by her side.

As a La Leche League leader leading mother to mother breastfeeding support groups in our area, I am always hearing birth stories and connecting with other new moms. I found myself loving to support them and at the same time feeling like I wanted to do and know more. I learned about the wonderful Ana Paula Markel and Bini Birth, and decided to take the DONA doula training course. Sitting in class, with all those women who cared just as much about the sacredness of birth and empowering families in making informed choices- I knew I had found my calling. I began my business fall of 2012 and haven’t stopped celebrating birth since!

2. a doula’s support is informational, emotional and physical. do you have a favorite? what makes it your favorite?

One of my favorite parts of the doula’s role is the informational aspect. I meet a handful of amazing, respectful, personable OB’s. I also meet quite a lot of OB’s that are simply not practicing evidence based medicine. I believe I have helped guide a birth in a healthier direction for both mom and baby by just providing my clients with the current research they need to ask the right questions and sometimes even feel confident saying they want something different. Something as simple as asking, “What’s my Bishop Score” can give a mom an extra few days to go into labor on their own versus being induced and increase their chances for a surgical birth. Asking for intermittent monitoring rather than continuous on their birth plan can make the difference between a manageable labor in which a variety of different comfort techniques can be used, or a labor where finding necessary comfort is more challenging and freedom is very limited.

Seeing a woman reach her limit and push past it, and the elation and pride that comes out of that is like nothing else. There is a new respect for our bodies as being creative, our psyche as one that is strong, and a feeling that one can surmount anything. We carry that satisfaction and sufficiency into our days and weeks postpartum. Every woman deserves to feel safe and protected in labor. The doula is an asset to the emotional experience of both the mother and partner. The experience is treated as sacred, a rite of passage to be honored and enjoyed. Even when things don’t go quite as planned, a doula helps the preserve the memory of the mother being cared for and supported.

3. how do you answer the question “what is a doula”?

A fellow doula sister of mine, Kelsie Packer, described the doula’s role perfectly. “My role is to be an extension of your hands, voice and heart. I support and empower the mother in all women ” -kelsie packer (truladoula)

I’d like to thank Katie for sharing her thoughts and words on the doula spotlight. If you would like to know more about Katie’s services and support work {or take a peek at her pretty family} you can find her at her Mama Nurture website or her facebook page.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks! Also, would you like a t-shirt? {smile & wink}

birth links

here’s a healthy dose of birthy goodness for your weekend reading since Birth Links was absent last week:

an article about Dr. Michel Odent, a pioneering advocate for natural birth practices. This article highlights information about his new book that examines birth in the technological era. His main question being does how we give birth effect who we become? The questions posed in this article are good ones to ponder for your own birth philosophies.

i attended a birth last week for a baby at 42 weeks, 2 days gestation and babe was sitting pretty. This article is a short but applicable one. should we let babies decide their due dates when stress tests reveal no complications even after 42 weeks?  Just a little fact: The average gestation for first time babies is actually 41 weeks and 2 days. Mommas, if you’re expecting your first please put that 40 week date out of your mind!

a lovely birth story from Birth Without Fear blog about the difference a doula can make.

this article about using 6 cm as the more accurate mark of active labor. Some moms can sit at 3-4 cms for a few days before the show really gets kicked on. by using 6 cm as the accurate marker numerous interventions could be avoided.

i attended a talk last week by the Dellesky family. The family spent a year in the phillipines while Jamie completed Midwifery training at a free maternal health clinic. the family is now on their journey to opening a similar clinic in Tanzania. Follow the link to learn more about their project and information to donate should you be moved to help for this cause.

and lastly, my post about the beautiful transformation i see come over mothers during the pushing phase.

that’s all. enjoy your weekend. and always remember:

20130621-203511.jpg

the beauty of pushing

wanna know which part of supporting a birth is the most emotional for me?

you’re going to guess when the baby is born, right? that’s what i would guess for anyone.

but we’re wrong in my case. i always think i’m going to be able to make it all the way until the babe has finally come earthside before my strong emotions come flooding in.

but i’m wrong every time.

i get emotional for my mommas when they’re pushing, especially this last birth. it was a long haul and i was so happy for this incredibly strong mother and her partner. i always get to a surreal, very clear moment of extreme gratitude and empathy and trying to will my own physical strength to the momma so she can perform this ultimate task. i usually manage to keep it in until the child is born because my rule is that i cannot get more emotional than the parents but if i could i’d cry every time during the pushing stage.

and i’ll tell you why:

it’s because i think mothers are so unequivocally beautiful when they are bringing new life into this world.

i’m sure that sounds weird to most people, especially if you are a woman who has gone through what those moments are like. i assume the majority of women go through those moments, in our current society, with the thought somewhere in the back of their mind that it must be the worst they’ve ever looked in their entire lives. we live in a culture that preys on our insecurities about those moments, that puts them in movies and makes you believe that you’re going to just look like a red-faced, sweaty mess.

well guess what, you are going to look like that. but you don’t have to hire someone to come in and do your hair and make-up afterward before pictures can be taken. {yes, some people actually do this. they are rich and i don’t know them.}  i want to tell you right now that you look beautiful, absolutely beautiful during that moment of your life.

there is a raw beauty that comes with life and death, when we have to step outside of our thoughts and operate in the realm of our instincts. when you can’t veil it and can’t think your way through it. no one gets much control in the moments that bring us into the world and those that take us out and it’s mind-blowingly gorgeous if you let it in.

if you are lucky enough to have the privilege of witnessing life coming or going then i hope you might pause to let this raw beauty in. it’s there lingering on the edges, waiting for you to pull it into focus. once you get it in your sights it will draw on you and leave you with a deep impression that will last all your days. it will open you up and make you a little more at peace with being human.

i beg of you: revel in the beauty of pushing.