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Monday, September 28, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I wrote this sometime after Annika was born in 2008.
It was January when I began giving some thought to a natural childbirth. I was due in May and it took me about a month to fully commit to the idea.
By the time I decided to discuss it with my doctor, I had already taken many steps toward embracing natural childbirth.
While at work, I had spent more time reading on-line about natural childbirth than I spent working.
I borrowed a copy of Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, read it, and had called to request a chance to audit a local class.
I had written my birth plan.
I had begun convincing Toyin that this was a good idea. (He needed lots of convincing.)
And then, I decided to discuss it with my doctor.
It had never occurred to me that she would not be supportive.
How naïve I was.
She laughed at me!
She didn’t even try to hide her amusement.
“Well, okay, you can do that,” she said gleefully smirking. “But you wouldn’t get a root canal without any pain medication would you?”
She clearly thought I was insane.
After she read my birth plan she told me that she thought I would be more comfortable at the birthing center.
I got no respect from this woman. She practically kicked me out of her office after insisting that a copy of my birth plan be put in my chart.
As I slunk out of her office, I imagined that while I had waited in the examination room, she had passed my birth plan around to her staff and they were all laughing at me.
Even so, on my walk of shame out of her office, I felt good about my decision to have a natural birth. This was not the doctor for me, but I knew that there had to be a doctor out there who would be supportive.
Maybe I was being foolish, but I wanted the best of both worlds. I wanted to do it my way, but with an emergency crew waiting in the wings just in case anything went wrong.
I did not want a midwife, I wanted a doctor, who had an MD behind her name.
I am a firm believer in modern technology and medicine.
I had already considered the birthing center and had decided that I would be more comfortable in a hospital.
I have nothing against the birthing center or midwives. In fact, I’ve heard great things about them and think it sounds wonderful, as long as everything goes right.
But even if I had wanted to use the birthing center, I couldn’t.
I had high blood pressure while I was pregnant and considered high risk, which made me an ineligible candidate for the birthing center.
Even without that consideration, I wanted to be surrounded by every possible machine that could make a difference just in case my baby had any problems. It was simply my own preference.
I was definitely birthing in a hospital.
Before I decided to completely cut myself loose from that doctor I just so happened to make a visit to Round Rock Medical Center, the hospital where I would birth if I stayed with her.
One morning at work, I had one of those new mommy panics where I thought the baby wasn’t moving enough and called my doctor’s office who told me I should get to a hospital immediately.
Once there she was fine, jumping around like a firecracker, but since I was there anyway I asked for a quick tour.
After a few minutes with the nurse, I knew that this was definitely not where I wanted to birth.
As she showed me the labor room, we began chatting. She had read my birth plan and told me that “quite frankly,” she thought it was a bit “wacky.”
She also told me that while many women who came through their hospital did natural birth, that for the most part, the doctors there were strictly “by the book” and followed the policy of “cya.”
“Cover your ass,” she explained in response to my confused look.
Did I want a doctor who was going to force me into a rigid “by the book” labor, forcing interventions on me at the first hint of inconvenience or potential problems? Or did I want a doctor who was going to do what was best for me and my child?
On my way back to work, I called up Rhonda, my soon-to-be hypnobirthing instructor and left her a message asking her if she knew any doctors who would be supportive.
She recommended Dr. Christina Sebestyen, who I did use and I loved her, although she did not actually attend Annika's birth. During my labor she checked on me numerous times, but told me she'd been at the hospital for three days and she was exhausted. I labored for several more hours after she had gone home. It didn't matter. I had a fantastic nurse who I will always be grateful to for being so supportive.
The fact is, if I knew then what I know now, things would be MUCH different. Since Annika's birth I have met a large and supportive community of women who are pro natural labor. Hearing stories about home births and the birth center have made me wish I knew them all along.
Overall, Annika's birth went very well, considering it was my first time and I was actually pretty uneducated, even though I thought I had done lots of research. I got lucky. More to come later.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I'm about to go off on several tangents, but stay with me because it all ends up in the same head space.
I met up with parenting coach Sandra Blackard for an interview a couple of weeks ago. What I wrote about her in that story was the basics. But what she talked to me about was so much more.
Blackard's technique of "Say what you see" for kids works great.
To boil it down, you literally always just say what you see.
For instance, you want your kid to eat his vegetables. "But I don't LIKE vegetables. I don't want to eat them!" he says. So instead of engaging in a power struggle over the vegetables you go, "You really don't like vegetables. You don't want to eat them."
Then, using SWYS, hopefully, the kid will go something like, "Well, maybe I like green beans. I'll eat green beans, but I won't eat cauliflower!" So, there. Problem solved.
Blackard says with SWYS if you allow the child to be heard, they will always come up with a solution to the problem.
(I totally just made up that example, so Sandy, if you are reading this and you want to comment further, please do so. I should say at this point that I do not profess to be an expert on SWYS.)
Okay, interesting enough for the kids, although her idea isn't really new to AP literature. Haim Ginott's ideas have been around for a while and are ingrained in AP readings by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, (the "How to talk..." ladies).
What intrigued me most about Blackard is that she encourages you to use SWYS on yourself too.
Ever since I met with Blackard, I have found myself really listening to MYself. And actually saying what I see, or really, HEARing what I am SAYing inside my head.
For instance, when Toyin says he is going to be home by 5 p.m. and then he doesn't show up until 5:30, in the past I would have found myself going, "YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO BE HOME BY 5!" Then storming angrily around the house muttering and/or shouting about how he NEVER shows up on time and how pissed off I am and now my evening is RUINED!
Instead, now, I say to myself, "I don't like that. I really don't like it when Toyin doesn't do what he says he's going to."
Then I can say calmly to him, "I don't like that you didn't show up when you said you were going to. I really don't like it when you don't show up on time."
This confronts the problem without being accusatory or judgmental and states the OH-SO-OBVIOUS, well, at least it was to me. Right ladies?
As I write this I realize that using Toyin is a bad example because if he reads this then he's going to be like, "Yeah, you still yell at me all the time."
But anyway, the point is, I have been hearing myself. I'm finally listening to myself. And it's helping me solve problems for myself better than I have in the past.
This leads me to my next tangent.
Last week I got an e-mail from a woman I've seen only a handful of times. She came to my house once for a playgroup and we've seen each other at a couple of AP functions.
She responded to a post I made on our online forum when I posted a link to a story I had written about Austin Attachment Parenting.
I swear to the gods, I have always toyed with the idea that I believe in fate, but I was never sure. I am now cuz Fate bitch-slapped me and said, "Hey, WTF Martha! How can you not believe in me? I'm right fucking here!"
Ok, a little over the top I know. But that's how I felt.
Like, ok, back to SWYS for a minute, Blackard uses the metaphor of talking to kids like you're on a map. Like, you can't tell them to turn left at the Stop sign if they are on the playground and there's no Stop sign. So, you have to be where they are when you are guiding them and that's how they will know where to go next. That's how SWYS works. If you can't see it, then don't say it. Right? Right. Get on the map. Then you can move forward. If you're not on the map, then how can you find direction? Metaphorically speaking of course.
So, like, I'm on the fucking map and this chick Michelle e-mails me with an idea that she wants me to write about: UNjobbing.
That's not a typo, dudes. I am not making this up. There's unschooling and now, I have finally heard it all. Unjobbing. It's basically being self employed. But it's being self employed because you really don't want to have a J.O.B.
That's totally what I'm trying to do.
Do you see how there I was on the map and then out of the blue someone came along to inspire me? How can I ignore that? I mean, it's like a fucking Lifetime movie of the week starring Melissa Gilbert.
See, I don't want to work away from my home for several hours a day and have to stick Annika in daycare. The reasons why are many, but Annika is the supremo number one reason.
Michelle's idea for an article was to talk about how she and her husband, Joel, are able to work from home and stay with their daughter, Siena. She loves it so much that she wants to inspire other people to do the same thing.
So I went over to Michelle's house and we talked about self employment and unjobbing and unschooling. She's really cool. And when I left her house I felt so motivated and positive about my life that I realized something. And for the first time I heard myself say it. Out loud. In my own head.
I don't like having a job. I want to work for myself. I want to be self employed. I want to be my own boss. It's scary. But there it is. Right there in my brain. And it's been there all of my adult life.
So this morning as Annika and I were lying in bed performing our mandatory, morning nursing session, I was thinking about how I haven't written a post in almost a week. And I was thinking about Sandy Blackard. Then I was thinking about all the random and various ways I plan to go about making money. Then I thought about Michelle e-mailing me and our visit at her house and I realized it all tied together. And voila! I knew I had to write about it.
As our morning wore on, I boiled and churned this blog post in my head, I came up with the headline because I knew that this all stuff -- Say what you see, listening to myself, unjobbing, being a mom -- all of this stuff is part of my journey of being mindful.
Then in my head popped my headline, "Wherever you go, that's where you are." I know it's nothing new, but it totally fits with the mindfulness and the map analogy.
And now for the best part, I know, I know you thought I was done being all zen and shit. But here goes.
This morning, on a total whim I decided to take Annika to Ruta Maya for the morning kid's show. The act was Sarah Dinan, a Celtic singer, who also does kids songs. She's a mom too.
And she's singing kids music and we're clapping hands and singing and having a grand old time. Then she says she's going to do one, just ONE mind you, of her Gaelic tunes. She tells us, "Okay, you probably won't understand the words because it's in another language, but the name of the song is -- get this shit -- "Wherever you go, that's where you are."
I shit you not. Okay Fate, c'mon over here and give me a big hug.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
During week three of weaning the human pacifier, (Can you believe it's only been three weeks? It seems soooo much longer.) we went from going to sleep really easily, to four nights of flat out, unmitigated refusal to sleep until I was ready to go to bed and essentially forced her to get in bed with me.
Last Tuesday, I found some really awesome YouTube videos by searching "lullaby." Annika loved them and she watched them until she was really sleepy, then passed out after nursing for only about three minutes. She slept for two and a half hours before waking up and crying out for me.
These are my two favorites videos.
Then Wednesday came along and she was like a wild woman. She would watch the videos, then nurse and just as her eyes would be fluttering closed, she'd pop off, roll over, stick her tiny little head up and grin while she rolled over me to hop off the bed and look at books.
This happened every night until Saturday. Then Sunday she nursed to sleep pretty easily. Last night was weird, she watched videos, then I was able to easily nurse her to sleep.
The weird part was not how she went to sleep, but how she slept. First of all, she slept for about three hours before waking up at all.
In the middle of the night, I awoke to find that she'd crawled off of the bed and fallen asleep on the floor. I debated bringing her back to bed because I didn't want to wake her. Ultimately, I decided in all good conscience I could not leave my baby sleeping on the floor. So after a few minutes of debate, I pulled her back into the bed. And she didn't wake up!
Then later in night/early morning, I awoke to find her sleeping half on the bed and half off. I did leave her there since she was technically still on the bed. When I got up at 7 a.m. I put her back on the bed where she stayed asleep for a few more minutes.
The only thing that's changed is her getting used to sleeping without a boob in her mouth. In a previous post I wrote that I heard somewhere that it takes six weeks to change a habit. But last week I heard from another source that it only takes three weeks. So, it's been three weeks. Is the habit changed?
THAT is still the million dollar question.... To be continued.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
The recent debating about Obama's health plan has made me quite uneasy about the state of my future health.
While I would like very much to see a public health insurance option enacted, my biggest fear about the new plan not being enacted is the loss of the clause that says insurance companies can no longer deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions and they can no longer drop people for expensive-to-treat diseases.
See, I'm healthy now. But I have committed the cardinal sin of going without health insurance, not just in the past year, but a couple of years ago for approximately seven months after a layoff. I worry that one day I will contract a hideous disease and even if I have insurance, I will be denied care because of my lapse in coverage.
I don't think it's fair that people can be denied coverage because they lost a job and couldn't afford to shell out $400 a month for COBRA while unemployed. And it's equally unfair to discriminate against someone because they made a life choice that doesn't line up with typical American lifestyle.
The thing is, for the most part, I have always played by the rules.
As an adult, I have been a contributing member of society and I have had health coverage.
I went without insurance during my college years, not an uncommon occurrence amongst the young. When I was 22 I married a military man, which meant the government covered me. It was, if not the best, certainly the cheapest health coverage I have ever had. (It was all free, even prescriptions.)
By the time my ex was discharged from government service I had gotten myself a job with a lovely benefits plan. For seven years I worked that job and enjoyed plenty of doctor's visits, and a low co-pay.
Then I decided to go back to college and get a degree. When I graduated I moved jobs, but I still had health insurance. It wasn't quite as good, but it did the job.
Then, a layoff. Boom. I was told I'd have coverage for two months, but when I went to refill a prescription a month after my layoff, I was denied unless I paid full price because my coverage had been canceled. I couldn't afford the COBRA So I went without.
Sixteen months ago when I left my job to stay at home with Annika, I knew that once again I'd go without coverage for some time. My employer covered me for six months after her birth. But when that lapsed, I was, once again, vulnerable.
And again, I couldn't afford COBRA.
I've heard people say things about uninsured folks, as if they are lazy or just losers who don't have a good enough job to have insurance. Maybe they just don't care enough. Maybe they want to get sick and have to go to the hospital and then skip out on payment because they are deadbeats.
I'm so sick of that attitude.
People don't have health insurance because of circumstances that leave them with any sort of safety net.
When I left my job to stay at home with Annika, I had two choices when it came to health care.
Go without or get a job and take my daughter to day care. But I believe that babies need to be near by their mothers (or fathers) during the first years of life. The reason I chose this route wasn't because I wanted to sit around at home, but because I wanted to give my daughter a healthy start in life.
Staying at home with Annika meant I could nurse her full-time. It meant she could slowly integrate into this world with the person who cares for her the most. Being a stay-at-home mom meant I had time to bond with her. It meant the world to me. Honestly, the insurance thing wasn't much of a quandary at all. I just knew that I'd go without.
So, there's my story. I hope that if anyone is reading this who thinks Obama's plan is a bad thing, all I ask of you is this. Please try to assume that most folks who don't have insurance aren't lazy losers, but honest folk just like you who are just trying to get by in the world. Shouldn't everyone who lives in the richest nation in the world have access to affordable health care?
My mom met a woman at the doctor's office yesterday who told her that she had brain cancer, and is currently using COBRA because she is laid off. But when her COBRA expires, she'll be left without health insurance and will, in all likelihood die.
It makes me sick to think that people are being swayed by the arguments against this bill. Who cares if illegal immigrants are allowed to purchase a public option? I bet nobody is checking the records of the big insurance companies to see if they are allowing illegals to purchase their policies.
So here it is, time for health care reform. Will it happen? Will we finally get some change in this country or are we going to let health industry lobbyists and bi-partisan bickering continue to kill people?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
For those of you who are not aware of our situation, Toyin and I are exes who chose to live together during the first year/s of Annika's life so that I could stay at home with her. We made the choice for financial reasons.
When my reader made that comment, it got me thinking. Could this situation that Toyin and I have created become an option that might become more common in the future?
Current trends indicate that it could. At least, in my opinion. I've not seen any research to support my theory, just in case anyone is wondering.
But if you think about it, look at the way youngsters today behave in and view relationships.
When I was in my 20s, sex was way more casual than for instance, my parent's generation. One might sleep around with random partners, but it was for fun, or the result of too much partying. But casual sex aside, a relationship remained the goal.
To our parents, casual sex was typically out of the question, or so they said.
Now that casual sex seems to have become even more normalized, it begs the question, will this generation be more careful about birth control, therefore having less unplanned children?
Or will unplanned children just become used to a different standard of family. I think this generation is savvy enough to figure out that there are more choices than: A.) Getting married, B.) Being a single mom with a deadbeat dad C.) Having a weekend-only dad.
Our family works. Like I said in a previous post, some days it works really well, and some days it is a living hell. But it works as well as any marriage. Maybe better than some, not as well as others. Some people find it odd, and most people question how we do it. The most common question I get is, will it continue indefinitely?
Our current situation will not continue indefinitely. The current plan is that during the next year some time, we will not live together anymore. But we will always parent together. We haven't discussed the semantics of visitation or custody. I hope that we never have the need to talk about that stuff. When I was pregnant Toyin once started talking about going to court and drawing up custody papers.
I almost fell apart. Here my kid wasn't even born yet and battle lines were already being drawn.
I didn't blame him or get angry at him (although, it is possible I yelled, which I have a tendency to do...), I understood that those seemed like the natural options.
So I said to him, "Hey, lets see if we can work together on this and make our own decisions." I told him that I never wanted some judge to make parenting decisions for us.
He agreed pretty wholeheartedly if I remember correctly. I think he might have even been relieved.
We agreed to live together for the first year and see how things went. Annika is almost 16 months now and we are still living together. We are talking about moving into separate places, which will probably happen over the course of the next six months or maybe sooner.
Toyin has said he plans to see Annika every day. That is about all we have talked about. I plan to see her every day as well, unless she and Toyin are on a trip together.
We plan on living as close by each other as possible so that Annika can have the best of both worlds.
Ironically, I was thinking about how the religious right has been making such a fuss over gay marriage, saying that gay marriage is going to ruin marriage as an institution, then quietly, here we heteros have come along and snuck up on them with a scenario that nobody ever even thought of.
You can have kids WITHOUT getting married. HA! Take that bitches!
Friday, September 4, 2009
In addition to the benefits to myself, Annika also seems to be benefiting from the extra rest.
She also seems to be sleeping a little harder and deeper than she was before. In the past, I was a bit concerned that because of the suckling, she wasn't actually falling into a deep sleep and therefore, not getting the rest she truly needed.
She has been saying and doing things in the past couple of weeks that she hasn't before. Naturally, because of her age, it could be simply a coincidence, but I have my doubts about that.
She is now saying a whole list of new words, mama, cat, car, truck, seriously. Seriously, she said, seriously. She was repeating what Toyin said while he was joking around with her. Only it sounded more like, "seessly?"
After months of calling all animals woof woof, or go-go, her word for dog, she is now saying cat, and pointing at pictures of them and saying meow. In the past two weeks she has started pointing out her head, belly and feet. She can distinguish between her toes and feet. She is starting to shake her head "no" when she doesn't want something. She has started using a fork. She is very interested in how cups work, although, she still mostly just pours water onto the floor and herself, she can drink from a regular cup.
This morning, I watched her as she took a cup, filled it with water, drank some and then pulled it away from herself and poured the water down her front. It was no accident. She was examining how the liquid drained from the cup.
Also, she has been saying up, for a while now, but now it seems more definite. Like she really understands what the word means. She puts her arms up and says firmly, "UP."
There have also been a couple of times she has woken up and gone back to sleep without nursing. She just snuggled up next to me and fell back asleep. For the most part, she is still nursing when she wakes at night, which is still at least three or four times a night. I'm not really sure how much she is waking up at night since I am starting to sleep through a lot of it, or at least, I'm not being fully awakened, as I was before.
The progress is slow-going, but it's nice. And other than the first couple of nights, there has not been any major drama. Earlier this week I went to the library to get some work done and Toyin put her to sleep. He was able to get her to sleep and put her down in bed, something he has not been able to do since she was very tiny.
So, folks, we have progress. I read somewhere that it takes six weeks to change a habit and get a new routine started. I will update along the way. Happy trails.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Now, I could name a bunch of mushy reasons, like how great it makes you feel when your baby smiles at you or what a sense of accomplishment you feel when your child pees in her potty all by herself. But I won't. Because that stuff will only make sense to people who already have children.
So here's my list to all you folks who think parenting is a real drag. It's not. I promise. It has it's sucky moments, but those moments are outweighed in vast numbers by the awesome stuff that comes with parenting.
Reason number 10:
You get to read Dr. Seuss books. Remember the classic Green Eggs and Ham? Sam I am! I do not like green eggs and ham! I do not like them in a boat, I do not like them in a moat.... We just started reading Dr. Seuss to Annika and she loves it. She's totally obsessed with The Foot Book, but I'm sure that we'll graduate to Green Eggs and Ham eventually.
Reason number 9:
You get to talk like Pootie Tang. And when you do, nobody calls you a dork and stupid for liking that movie. Cole me down on the panny sty. Sepatown.
And the best thing? When you talk like that, you get an answer that makes equally as much sense. Matter of fact, it makes tons of sense to both of you. Kappa Chow mofos.
Reason number 8:
Kids crying in public is no longer a bother. You know how when you go out to eat and at the next table there's a bunch of fucking booger pickers running around flinging french fries at you and their parents are just staring out the window as if they didn't notice? Well, that's because they didn't.
When you go out without your kid, those kids won't even register on your radar because you are just glad to be at a restaurant drinking a margarita with your friends and not having to wipe someone else's face or pick up french fries off the floor when you're done eating.
Reason number 7:
Naps. When you're a parent, nobody thinks you are a lazy schmo for taking naps. You actually get congratulated for taking a nap. People pat you on the back and say, "Good for you for sleeping in the middle of the day. I'm sure you really needed that."
Reason number 6:
Swings. Maybe it's just me. But before I had Annika I used to walk by the swings at parks and look dreamily at them, wishing I had a reason to swing and pump my legs as high as I could, like when I was a kid. When you're a single person with no kids, people look at you funny if you go to the park by yourself and play on the toys. If you're a jungle gym person, by all means, feel free to go hang upside down until you turn red in the face.
Reason number 5:
Cartoons. Need I say more? Seriously.
Reason number 4:
Laughing. When you have a kid, you laugh all the freakin' time. You laugh when you wake up in the morning, just because. You laugh when the dog drools on you. You laugh while you're eating breakfast because your toddler thinks it's funny to feed you. You laugh at the park and on a train. You laugh in the car and on the plane. You laugh at a cat, at a hat, at a bat and after a nap. You laugh at the park, in an ark, and at some guy named Mark. You laugh on the potty and while drinking hot toddies. You laugh at night and with a kite. You laugh here, you laugh there, you laugh and laugh everywhere.
Reason number 3:
Snacks. Did you know that with kids comes a requirement that you carry food with you at all times? Yeah. It's true. If you are a well-prepared parent, you will always have snacks with you. Granted, it's usually fruit, or cheese crackers or some form of cereal, but it's food.
And it's not just for the kids. You can eat it too. You can even pack separate snacks for yourself. So instead of heading to the closest vending machine, whenever you get hungry, you can just reach into that giant bag you're carrying and pull out some food. It's awesome. Now I'm hungry.
Reason number 2:
Cuddling. Ok, now you're all like, "Dude, you said you weren't going to get mushy on me!" But seriously, this isn't mushy. Cuddling with a baby and toddler is so much fun. When they're sleeping they are really warm and their skin is really soft. Lately, Annika's new thing is that she is really into sitting on stuff, me included (and Toyin), so she backs up to us and plops her little booty on a lap and then waits for us to read to her, or play drums.
Reason number 1:
Baby hugs and kisses. Yeah, still not mushy. Ok, maybe a little. But baby hugs and kisses are the best ones you will ever get. When that tiny little arm wraps around your neck, you can't help but totally melt all over the ground.
And the kiss, well, it's fucking priceless. Because little babies and toddlers don't know how to purse their lips. They just place their mouths on you and drool. And for those of you who think of your dogs and cats as your kiddos, well, let me tell you, baby drool is a million times better.