March 27, 2010

27/50? Not good enough!

Perusing some birth and midwife related websites today, I came across "The Big Push" for Certified Professional Midwives. That's where I found out that CPMs are not legally allowed to practice in 23 states. What the heck? Here's a little bit more about what they do:



I think that midwives are so valuable to pregnant women, and I can't imagine my only choice being a hospital birth. There is so much more out there, and I get tired of this country treating pregnant women like they have some kind of illness. In the majority of healthy pregnancies, there is no need for an OB, a CPM can safely and successfully deliver the baby. In any case, I think this is an organization worth checking out!
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March 25, 2010

Everything Changes, Everything Falls Apart

It's been a week since I got the text message. "Aaron just laid me off." I stared at my phone, and the only response I could muster was "WTF? Call when you can." Then all I could do was sit there and wait.

There was no notice. There is no kind of seperation pay. Not even appreciation for the work my husband has done the last 2 years or the 50-60 hour weeks he's been working for the past few months, with no extra pay. No payout of accrued personal days, sick or vacation time. Despite the fact that his boss told him he was being laid off, he treated him like he was being fired.

I guess the good news is that now that he doesn't work there anymore, I can openly express my real feelings for his boss. He has never appreciated my husband and his knowledge and work ethic. He has treated him like some sort of sub par employee for as long as he's been there. He has not respected him in any way. And I've had to bite my tongue every time Justin came home from work and told me how he was treated that day and how his boss had made ANOTHER mess he had to fix. How clients didn't want to work with his boss, and he had to try and make up the difference with them.

But most of that? Is not much consolation right now. I've felt so much over the last week. Frustration. Fear. Anger. Panic.

On Sunday it manifested as an overwhelming sadness. Justin woke up on the wrong side of the bed and I just felt like nothing was right. I know how it feels to be laid off from a place you've worked at for years and feel like they don't even care you're gone. I could imagine how it felt to be laid off by someone who isn't very nice and stands and watches over your shoulder while you clear out your things despite 2 years of loyal service.

I cried.

On Monday all it took was Sam scratching me - accidentally but by playing a little too rough with fingernails that were a little to long. I yelled, then seperated myself. Sat on the front lawn and sobbed in one of our little plastic IKEA chairs. Beyond the anger and the sadness and the fear, overwhelming all of that in that moment, was the guilt.

These last few days, I haven't been handling motherhood very well. And I hate it. Sam is very tied to our emotions and the atmosphere he's in. He's been difficult. We've been having issues with hitting and the extra whining is grating on my last nerve. I hate feeling like we'd both be better off if we weren't together, but I've had those moments more frequently than normal in the last week.

It doesn't help that our house is a mess that needs to be cleaned up and I can't seem to muster the energy. Even before all of this happened, I had been feeling exhausted. I'm in the final stretch of this pregnancy and it's taking a lot out of me. Cleaning up toys in the living room and clearing out dirty laundry and dishes leaves me feeling like I need to lie down for a while. When the laundry is clean, I can no longer carry the basket up the stairs.

Today, a week later, I find myself feeling utterly panicked. We have no income. We have no savings. We have nothing we can cash out, nothing to fall back on. Because Justin was making so little money for the last two years, we haven't been able to replace any of our savings. We don't have any credit cards since the bankruptcy we went through in 2008.

Ironically, last Wednesday or Thursday I was thinking about writing a post about how tired I am of being poor. I planned the disclaimer of a paragraph - yes I know we were lucky that we had a job at all. I KNOW that we're lucky we have a roof over our heads, and I'm not discounting people who have less. But it really sucks living paycheck to paycheck, overdrawing the bank account almost every month, having to rely on the state for insurance and take WIC to cover part of our grocery costs.

Now, we have $150 to last until Justin gets his last paycheck on April 7. We barely have any food in the house, and my car is out of gas. His last check will only be 1/2 the normal amount, which will cover some of our bills for April, but not all. We have a baby coming in six weeks, and a significant amount of stuff like bottles and clothes and diapers that we still need to buy.

I had to email our babysitter today to tell her we can't pay her, and despite the fact that I feel like I need my Sam-free days more than ever, that we can stop sending him if she wants until we can pay her. Luckily she's a friend and not a day care center, and she'll probably understand.


I told her about how Sam broke his Aunt's camera last night and I felt bad because I couldn't offer anything. Normally I would offer to pay to have it fixed or to help her buy a new one, but I can't offer that right now. I don't even know how we're going to get through the next few weeks.

I was feeling okay before I wrote that email. Afterwards, I just felt drained. I feel the familiar prickle of tears in my eyes, and I've cried more this week than I have in a while. Sometimes it's hard to stop.

We're waiting to hear on a job that Justin interviewed for last week, and praying for it. We're pretty sure he's one of the final 2 candidates, and it would be amazing if it worked out. But what if it doesn't? Jobs are not exactly plentiful here, especially in his field (computer IT or programming). We're waiting to hear on another job he might be able to do for one of his old clients that would get us through a couple of months. But there are no guarantees.

I'm scared. This is the worst off we've ever been. There have been rough patches before, but never like this. Never where I was so uncertain of what was going to happen and how we were really going to be able to make it. Coping with all of this with a sensitive almost 4 year old and with pregnancy hormones coursing through my veins? It's making me a little crazy.

People ask me how I'm doing, and it's hard to answer anything but 'fine.' I don't want to get into it, and I do have moments where everything seems normal. It's too much to think about every minute of every day. But I know that neither Justin or I really feel fine or normal right now.

I don't know how to end this, other than to say Thank You to everyone who's been supportive the last week. It does make a difference. I'm just trying to trust that things will somehow work out, because really, what else can I do?
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Thursday Thirteen in New Jersey

I finally uploaded all of my photos from the trip Sam and I took to New Jersey this month, so this week for my Thursday Thirteen, I present our trip... in 13 photos! Hope you enjoy them!



Captivated by Technology: Sam & his Aunt Lianna (11 yrs old)

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I see you!

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Special bedtime stories.

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Sam, Grandma & Zack from next door

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Boys & Dogs

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Sam & his Great Great Aunt Lena

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Happy Jammy Time

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At the Zoo

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Sam & Lianna at the zoo

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Dogs love crumbs. Boys love dogs.

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Sam, Zach & neighbor Diana (honorary Grandma :-)

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Not just an ottoman

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Flying home

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Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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March 24, 2010

Being laid off sure feels a lot like being fired

Today I have a guest post from my husband, Justin.

Being laid off sure feels a lot like being fired.

On Friday I found out that the company I work for is being dissolved and that a couple of the major clients were to be transferred to another company, owned by someone who I respected.

This series of events didn’t come as a huge shock to me. We were a small business whose office manager had quit a couple months back because he couldn’t stand the environment, and the other technician was laid off shortly after – leaving me to fend for myself with all of our clients, as my boss was busy with his other business venture.

The place was terribly mismanaged, with money going everywhere except for where it should have been going. The wrong technology was being chosen for jobs, planning thrown out the window, leaving the customers unhappy. Bets were being placed as to how long the company would last.

The writing was on the wall; however I would have expected a bit more common courtesy for basically running the company after having 2 of the 3 employees leave in such a short time. Like, maybe a week or two notice? Or not being watched like a hawk while I copied off my personal files from my laptop and packed my belongings. Seems to me like odd behavior for a company that is being dissolved.

Being curious, I got in touch with one of my clients and it looks like plans are being drawn up to transfer them to this other company. I pride myself on the customer relationships that I have formed and needless to say, they’re not too happy about this series of events, considering I’m the only one who holds the majority of the knowledge regarding their network.

That’s right, I was let go before getting any information out of me that only I know, during two fairly large projects. I’m not sure which part bothers me the most – that he would feel comfortable screwing the clients that much by leaving them high and dry, or that he wouldn’t have the balls to give me any advance notice that he was dissolving the company. Instead of treating me like someone who has given up a large chunk of his days (and nights) trying to keep the company afloat, I’m escorted out of the building like a minimum wage grunt.

And after all of this, he tells me on the way out that he’ll give me a good reference. I wanted to tell him exactly where he could stick his reference, but I’m a bigger man than that.

This could all be a blessing in disguise. I’m on the short list for the perfect software developer job. I should know this week whether or not I got it. As a contingency, I acquired a business license and have been in contact with one of my former clients to finish the job I started, except solo this time.

And best of all, I’m not ever going to have to argue with him over whether or not a 16 character password made up of a couple of English words sprinkled with some punctuation before, after, and in-between is more secure than a 16 character password of random characters. I could never get him to understand that one.

We’ve gone through worse and survived. It may sound odd, but I’m glad that I haven’t gotten past the shock and denial part of the evening yet, because a broken down Justin does not do well at interviews.

Justin

PS – for those who are at all interested, there are about 94 printable characters on a keyboard. If I’m not mistaken, the random password would be something like 94^16 password combinations, which is a lot, and would have to be broken by brute force… trying each combination until you come up with the correct password. If you start throwing in predictable things like having two English words under 8 characters in the password then you’ve pretty much handed it over to someone who’s experienced in password cracking.

***

I have more to say about this, but Justin wanted to have a chance to get it out there for himself. I should be back to regular posting soon, but the last 1/2 week has been a little weird around here.

Rachael
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March 12, 2010

How We See Birth: Changing Our Perceptions

"Women are being convinced that their births are a medical incident... to surrender their experience to someone else..."

"When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change."

- Marie Mongan, founder of HypnoBirthing


How We View Birth

Something is wrong with the way we view birth in this country. That is a conclusion I came to much before I'd ever started taking a HypnoBirthing class. Not only is something wrong with the way we view birth, but with the way we handle it. In terms of developed countries, the infant mortality rate in the US leaves a lot to be desired. In other countries, many, many more women deliver with midwives. Why? Because if you have a 'normal', not high risk pregnancy, you don't really NEED a doctor to deliver your baby.

It seems like there is a perception that's grown that a woman's body is not good enough to handle having a baby. That she will certainly not be able to get through it on her own, and will need to be in a hospital with medical interventions. Half the time when I tell people I am planning on a natural birth, they look at me like I am crazy. But women have been having babies on their own for thousands of years, and been fine. Still, I am asked why I would WANT to have my baby without drugs when they are so readily available.

The thing is? Those drugs do take away pain. But they also take away other feelings, they override your body's natural hormones and feelings and change the experience completely. For some women, this might not matter. But for me... I want to have my baby and feel that connection, I want to feel my baby coming to me and feel the full strength of holding him in my arms for the first time. I wonder how different it will be from the first time. I don't know what to expect, and maybe it will be very similar. But maybe it won't, and that's not a chance I want to miss out on.

When Marie Mongan, the founder of HypnoBirthing, found herself pregnant with her first child in 1954, she wanted something different. She would be going through her labor and delivery in a time when husbands were not allowed in the birthing room. This was a time when by the time women were dilated fully, they were put under general anesthesia or "twilight sleep" to wake up no longer pregnant with their baby in a nursery somewhere else in the hospital. Here is a passage from the book HypnoBirthing that really stuck with me:

"My birthing was not going to be one of drugged compliance with no recollection of the experience. the premise that birthing, by nature, had to be a painful ordeal was totally unacceptable to me. I could not believe that a God who had created the body with such perfection could have designed a system of procreation that was flawed. So many questions prevented me from accepting the concept of pain in birthing. why are the two sets of muscles of the uterus the only muscles that do not perform well under normal conditions? Why are the lesser animals blessed with smooth, easy birthing while we, the very highest of creatures, made in the image and likeness of God, are destined to suffer? And why are women in some cultures able to have gentle, comfortable births? Are we women in the Western world less loved, less indulged, less blessed than they? It didn't make sense to me logically or physiologically."

Birth in the Media

Imagine the last time you saw a woman in labor in a TV show or movie. What was it like? Most likely she went into painful labor immediately, perhaps with her water breaking and contractions immediately doubling her over in pain. Rushed to the hospital, she was immediately in hard labor, covered in sweat and screaming as she pushed her baby out.

What is wrong with this picture? So many things. At our first HypnoBirthing class, our teacher told us about a study that was done at a conference with healthcare providers like nurses and doctors who attend births. They were shown 179 clips from various movies & television shows of women giving birth. Across the board, how many did they rate as REALISTIC portrayals? ONE. That's because, if I can just venture a generalization based on the women I have met, that's not how birth usually is.

Most of the women I know did not scream during labor. Less than 20% of women have their labor start with their water breaking. The average labor lasts 12 hours, and there is plenty of time to get used to the contractions before they overtake you. Plenty of time to talk around and mosey on over to the hospital. But a quiet, slowly laboring woman doesn't really make for good drama, does she?

Unfortunately, that means that the images that women and young girls are exposed to are highly negative. By the time girls become women able to reproduce, they've been exposed to these dramatized accounts, and maybe one birth video in health class, whose close up shot of a baby crowning most likely becomes their only memory of the whole thing. Because really, who wouldn't remember that?!

Even on reality shows like "A Baby Story" on TLC, they rarely show home births or births at birth centers. Generally when these types of births are portrayed on television, the parents are portrayed as being hippies, or slightly off. The reality is that anyone can choose a birth center or home birth regardless of their background.

Other media isn't always much better. At our first class, our instructor read us an article from WebMD about HypnoBirthing. While it started out positive, in the end the last two paragraphs that might stick with you? Not so positive:

"But some experts warn that hypnotism may not be enough to help everyone endure the powerful pains of labor. Yvonne Thornton, MD, PhD, a senior perinatologist at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, says she would counsel women to think long and hard before they decide to try hypnobirthing or any other method of drug-free delivery.

"If you really want to have a drug-free birth, you have to be committed to the program or technique because if you are not really committed, it's a farce," she tells WebMD. "Some people have a fairy-tale idea about the true nature of labor, but it is painful. It is one of the most painful crisises that the woman has to endure."'

So basically, they write an article supposedly about the positives, and end it by telling you that you should really think about it before you decide to try this. To me, it implies that you have to be some kind of superwoman to really do a drug free birth, but normal women? Should really think about it, because they probably can't handle it. Then it refers to pregnancy as a crisis instead of as a wonderful, NATURAL event that has been happening for years. Why is this doctor considering birth a crisis when it's a natural, physiological process? You got me.

Since I've been pregnant, and in HypnoBirthing, I've watched many videos. There are tons of videos to be found on YouTube, the Hypnobirthing website, and other various places of amazing, empowering births. I'll post a few in one of my HypnoBbirthing themed posts. The bottom line is that these videos are amazing. They give me confidence, and it's a big shame that young women are not exposed to these kinds of videos that show what birth CAN be.

Fear, Tension and Pain

In our first class, we talked about the cycle of fear, tension and pain. In my opinion, the way that birth is portrayed in our media and the lack of realistic and positive information available for women feeds directly into the fact that myself and many women I know went into our first childbirth experiences full of fear.

I was terrified of labor. The stories I'd heard, the way that I'd seen birth portrayed... it all lead to this huge fear. How much would it hurt? Would I be able to handle the pain? And mainly, what would it be like afterward? I heard it described in more than one place as being "like hamburger down there." If that just horrified you and you're NOT pregnant, imagine how much it freaked me out! By the way, I assure you, it wasn't like that at all in my experience.

What happens to us when we are afraid? Our body secretes hormones meant to do certain things. In our first hypnobirthing class, we talked about the cycle of fear --> tension --> pain. We talked about how fear affects labor:

Fear creates stress hormones.
These hormones cause our arteries to constrict.
Less blood and oxygen is able to reach our uterus/baby.
The circular muscle fibers in the uterus constrict, fighting against the longitudinal muscles, which continue to contract, trying to draw the baby down.
This muscle tension leads to pain.
The mother may then experience a failure to progress.
The baby may experience distress because of the tension, and the pain the mother is feeling.
And we end up with some kind of medical intervention.

When you think about it this way, concretely, it makes sense why it is so important to think about how your birth is going to be, to realize what it CAN be. Going into the labor and delivery room afraid affects your whole birth experience. Unfortunately for many women, that's all they know.

What if? What if we could break this cycle for the majority of women who are going to have babies? What if instead of scaring them and telling them horror stories and showing them images of screaming women, we nurtured them and the lives growing inside them? What if, as pregnant women, we learned to love our bodies the way we love our babies and to trust ourselves?

That's really what I'm trying to do this time around. And you know what? I'm not afraid. I know that it's going to be intense. I know that it's going to be work, and it's not going to be easy. But I feel so much joy at the thought of bringing my baby into this world that I know it's going to be amazing.

What was your birth experience like? Were you afraid? Was there a difference for you in the fear level between your first and subsequent deliveries?

This is post 2 in a series about HypnoBirthing and my experiences learning the method. Part 1 is here. The next installment will be about HypnoBirthing and the Mind Body Connection. Or, see Part 4 about my experience.
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March 10, 2010

Seventh Month Pregnancy Reflections

Last time I was pregnant, I had an online journal at babycrowd.com. They had monthly prompts for you to answer. My pregnancy reflections from my 7th month with Sam are here. Things are a little different this time, here are my answers for what things are like in my 7th month with Danny.

I've started thinking about the nursery:
Danny's nursery will be a hodge podge of hand me downs and things I've picked up because I liked them. The glider chair was bought from a friend when she moved. The crib is white, a hand me down from another friend. There is a twin bed in there, which will most likely be where we change the baby, and a small dresser for his clothes. The only matching bedding set we have was another hand me down, and I've registered for a few random crib sheets that I liked. The walls are all wood since we live in a log house, and we'll probably get a few things to hang on the walls. It isn't really started yet, and it doesn't feel like Danny's room quite yet.

I've been dreaming about you:
I'll tell you what, I have definitely been having some WEIRD dreams. I always have sort of intense dreams, but throughout the pregnancy they've certainly been odd. Just like I said at this time in my pregnancy with Sam, I'm not actually dreaming about Danny. I think about him all the time when I'm awake though!

I used to love food! Now I avoid:
I was eating more chicken before I got pregnant. I have not been eating much red meat, other than ground beef. It doesn't really appeal to me. It's hard to think of foods that don't appeal to me, easier to think about foods that appeal to me more than usual. I have been drinking a lot of orange juice, and eating cereal. Not too many cravings lately though!

I never thought pregnancy would make me:
So uncomfortable so soon! I know, I have been through this before. It seems like this time around somehow 30 weeks was the magic number. Over this last weekend, my belly got more full and feels harder - maybe the baby shifted positions or something. I can no longer bend at the waist and have found going from lying down to sitting up or from sitting to standing I have to actually think about what I'm doing and not bend too much. My back is hurting, especially if I sit for too long, and I'm having trouble sitting on the floor to play with Sam without feeling uncomfortable. It's getting harder to turn over in bed.

I can't wait to:
Meet my baby! We're not really ready yet, but I am still so excited for the day I'm going to get to hold Danny in my arms! I have been doing a little shopping, some consignment stores and little outfits here and there. I can't wait to get his room ready and his clothes washed and put away, and to gather all the coming hand-me-downs of car seats, strollers, cribs etc from friends.

My prenatal visit this month taught me:
That I definitely made the right decision in switching midwives. I feel more comfortable with the new one already, and am looking forward to seeing her again on the 15th, at which point I'll be on an every two weeks schedule instead of once a month!

My hopes:
I'm actually kind of hoping that the rest of this pregnancy goes by pretty fast. I'm hoping that I won't be TOO uncomfortable for the rest of the time.

My fears:
I have been feeling a little bit apprehensive about having a new baby in our house and Sam having to adjust to that. I think he'll be a good big brother but I know it's going to be a huge adjustment for him, and I hope that we will handle it in a way that he still has his special time and knows how much we love him.
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March 9, 2010

A Letter to My Oldest

Dear Sam,

I have been meaning to write this letter to you since I wrote one to your little brother, but time has gotten away from me. It seems to be a common occurrence with a big house to take care of and everything involved in the life of a Mom to a 3 1/2 year old. You are such a busy boy, and I'm trying to enjoy spending these next few months with you since it will be our last as a mother-son duo before we become a trio.

There are so many things you do now, so much about the way you are right now that I never want to forget. I guess that's just the way things are when you're a Mom. I took a 13-item 'snapshot' of you last week, but I know that listing 13 things will never be adequate.

Lately I have been thinking so much about you as a brother. I don't have any experience with brothers, or with siblings that are so far apart. When Danny is born, you'll be 4 years old. I've been feeling nervous about it, I don't have too much experience with siblings so far apart. Part of me worries that you won't be as close as your Aunt Kira and I. I worry that you'll be too much older, and won't want to play with your baby brother as much.

In the past couple of weeks, I've seen you play with some other kids though. I watch our friend's 7 year old play with you and with her 2 year old sister. I watched you play with a 1 and a half year old at a birthday party with a smile of absolute joy. I watched some older girls play with you at the playground. And it gives me confidence. You are such a wonderful, loving child Sam. I know it's going to be hard at first, but I think you're going to be a wonderful big brother, and that you're going to take care of your little brother.

Things are not always easy. As a toddler, you are discovering yourself. You spend your time exploring, learning, and finding out just who you are in this big, big world. Just when we have a few days of you not listening to anything I say, you make it a little better by having an amazing day like today, where everything goes well. Our biggest hiccup was you having to be boosted onto the school bus because for some reason you didn't want to get on yourself. You don't cry, or complain, you just stop walking. Once you're on you seem okay and you have fun at school.

When you got home we came into the house and snacked, then we went to visit Grandma and went to the playground. You were so happy today, and had a great time. I was excited when you came home from school with your very first Scholastic book order form! I always LOVED the book order forms and the book fairs at school when I was a kid, and I can't wait to get you a few new books.

Our first parent-teacher conferences are coming up in a few weeks and I can't wait to hear about what you've done these past few months at school, and how you've progressed. It's amazing when you come home and tell me about school. I love asking you what song you sang at circle time, and when you sing a song I don't know it's just so adorable I almost can't stand it.

You absolutely LOVE puzzles. You can do puzzles up to 25 pieces by yourself, and I love to watch you concentrate. You even love to watch me do online jigsaw puzzles. I love that you love something so much that will help your brain grow big and strong. You are so smart, and sometimes I stare at your face as you concentrate and work through things. It's just beautiful.

Sometimes I see pictures of you when you were smaller, and I almost don't recognize you. You have become so grown up. I just can't believe that you're going to be four in only a couple of months. I know that time is going to fly, and next thing I know you're going to be taking that bus to kindergarten instead of preschool. I can't wait to see what you do next.

I know that the last few months haven't been the easiest. I don't feel like I've been the best Mom I can all of the time. With the physical illness of my first 20 weeks growing this baby, and the mental aspects of now, I know my temper is shorter, and my emotions are stronger. But for the most part, you remain so happy and we go about our business. Sometimes it's hard, but you are so understanding for a little boy.

Soon, we will be entering a crazy new chapter of our lives. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous, a little scared, and a little unsure of how things will be in a few months when you're not my only little boy anymore. But I am absolutely determined that you will know that no matter what, you are special, you are loved and you are appreciated. I hope I won't trip up too often, and that we'll be able to make it so that you remember the good times, just like we will.

You are my big boy, and I love you more than you can ever imagine.

Love,
Mommy
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March 8, 2010

Pregnancy & Birth Resources Online

This pregnancy has been very different for me. I was sicker, yes, but the biggest change has come in how I think about my baby and his birth.

I decided before I was ever pregnant that if I was to give birth to another baby, I wanted to do it on my own. As in, naturally. Without drugs. Not in a hospital. Luckily, here in Bellingham we have a very nice birth center that is very close to the hospital just in case. I have no problem with home births in general, I just don't really feel the desire to have a baby in my own house. We also live out in the county, so I feel a little more assured being closer to town. Although I'm pretty much convinced nothing will go wrong or off course.

Right now, I'm enrolled in a HypnoBirthing class and I plan to write a lot about the class and the experience, as well as documenting my birth experience. In the meantime, I do a lot of reading online. One of the main focuses of HypnoBirthing is changing your perception of birth and one of the most awesome tools for this is reading positive natural birth stories and seeing how other women have gracefully and amazingly brought their babies into the world.

So, today, I thought I'd share some links to some of the great websites that have been keeping me occupied lately. Please feel free to share in the comments if you have any more to suggest!

Hypnobirthing.com - This is the official website of the Hypnobirthing movement, including information, birthing stories, FAQ and more.

Inspiring Birth Stories - Although it hasn't been updated for several months, this is a great source for inspiring, positive birth stories. Some of the stories are written by mothers, and many are written by the doulas who attended them.

Bellies & Babies
- The diary of childbirth educator, doula, mother, and aspiring midwife. Includes commentary, birth stories and more.

Enjoy Birth Blog - A blog about how to enjoy your pregnancy and birth, written by Sheridan - Hypnobabies Instructor, Hypno-doula, Proud VBAC mom, Lactivist, Positive Birth Story Collector and Mom of 3 Boys.


Have a Natural Childbirth
- This is another blog that has not been updated in almost a year, but has great information and stories nonetheless!

Kayce's Doula Journey - I've enjoyed reading news, stories and points of view from Kayce, a Doula who wants to become a midwife.

Science & Sensibility - A research blog about healthy pregnancy, birth and beyond. Amy Romano helps us out by finding the latest research and interpreting it for us. This one may be a bit scientific or a heavy read for some people.

Stand and D
eliver - Reflections on pregnancy, birth, and mothering from Rixa.

The Wonder of Birth - A stay at home mom's blog exploring childbirth issues.

I have also found that YouTube is an awesome resource for videos of natural births, Hypnobirths, and water births! Just be sure that if you're reading or watching somewhere and things seem negative, to stop. No need to expose yourself to that, especially if you're currently pregnant.

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March 5, 2010

Why Hypnobirthing, and BTW, What IS That?

"According to physiological law, all natural, normal functions of the body are achieved without peril or pain. Birth is a natural, normal, physiological function for normal, healthy women and their healthy babies. It can, therefore, be inferred that healthy women, carrying healthy babies, can safely birth without peril or pain."
- Dr. Jonathan Dye, 1891

In 2007, the national average for c-sections was around 30%. For mothers who used HypnoBirthing, the rate was 1/2 that - only 15%. Over 70% of moms who use HypnoBirthing have un-medicated births.

How We Found HypnoBirthing

I've heard about HypnoBirthing before, partially because the woman who teaches our local classes is a longtime friend of our family. Since I had Sam, I have done a lot of thinking and researching when it comes to birth. I've written about it, mainly in this post, which I wrote before I was even pregnant. After reading and watching different things, I knew that if I were to get pregnant again I wanted to have a different birth experience than I did the first time.

Knowing I wanted a natural delivery this time with as few drugs and interventions as possible, it made sense to start looking into ways I could make it the best it could be. One of the things I wanted to find was techniques for dealing with the intensity of labor and childbirth. When I was at the end of my labor with Sam, and during the pushing stage, I was very quiet. The room was quiet, the lights were off and it was dim with just the soft light coming through the windows. For the most part, it was very calm and quiet. I know that when I'm in that place, I will tend to turn within myself. I am not the kind of person who will scream out or talk a lot. I will most likely make low noises and tune out what's going on.

One of the reasons I chose HypnoBirthing is because it involves techniques and conditioning that allow relaxation and introspection during labor, and because of how things went with Sam I have a feeling it will work well for me.

What Exactly IS HypnoBirthing?

I know that many people have never heard of HypnoBirthing, or they've heard of it and honestly? Because of the name it may sound like something that's a little bit "out there." But once you learn what it's really about, it makes a lot of sense.

Here is a short description from HypnoBirthing.com:

HypnoBirthing® - The Mongan Method - is a unique method of relaxed, natural childbirth education, enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques. HypnoBirthing® provides the missing link that allows women to use their natural instincts to bring about a safer, easier, more comfortable birthing. Emphasis is placed on pregnancy and childbirth, as well as on pre-birth parenting and the consciousness of the pre-born baby. As a birthing method, HypnoBirthing® is as new as tomorrow and as old as ancient times. It is presented in a series of five, 2 1/2-hour classes or four, 3-hour classes.

That's a pretty general description. Here are a few main points I pulled from their "about" page.
  • HypnoBirthing® is as much a philosophy as it is a technique.
  • The method teaches you that, in the absence of fear and tension, or special medical circumstances, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labor.
  • You will gain an understanding of how the birthing muscles work in perfect harmony--as they were designed to--when your body is sufficiently relaxed and you trust birth.
  • You will learn how to achieve this kind of relaxation, free of the resistance that fear creates, and you will learn to use your natural birthing instincts for a calm, serene and comfortable birth.
So, that's part of what they have to say. When people ask ME what HypnoBirthing is about I have my own explanation. To me, there are two main ideas behind HypnoBirthing. The first is about our perceptions of birth, the way we view it, and what we expect to happen when we have a baby. HypnoBirthing focuses on positive thinking, mind body connection, and trying to change our perceptions from the negative to viewing birth as the amazing thing it is (more to come on this in my next HypnoBirthing post next week!). The second part is about learning relaxation techniques, aka self-hypnosis. By practicing and learning different techniques, the idea is that by the time you are in labor, you will be able to reach a state of deep relaxation that will allow you to experience labor differently as well as let your body relax so that you can let it work and birth your baby.

On the first day of our 5 session class, our teacher told us that a large part of the technique is restoring an innate confidence that a woman's body knows how to give birth and to trust it. On that first day, listening to her talk about almost painless births that she's witnessed, I was on the verge of tears thinking about a more natural, beautiful birth experience and how amazing the possibilities are.

This is the first in a series of posts about HypnoBirthing and the class we're attending. Part is How We See Birth; Changing Our Perceptions.
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March 4, 2010

13 Things I Want to Remember

Sam, you are getting so big. I've been working on a letter to you, but there are so many small moments I want to be able to remember. So, here's my 13-item snapshot of you at 3 years and 10 months old.

1. I drive you to the bottom of the driveway to catch your school bus. The best days, we roll down the car windows, turn up the music loud and dance together in the driveway while we wait. Today you spun around until you fell down.

2. You call all mail, or anything in an envelope, e-mail.

3. I randomly bought you an Elmo doll the other day, and you love it.

4. You love to do puzzles, and you can do 30 piece puzzles by yourself suddenly.

5. Your favorite shows are Phineas and Ferb, Team UmiZoomi, and The Backyardigans.

6. Your size 3 pants are getting too small, and you're tall now - people are already asking if you're 4.

7. We have a bedtime routine, and you finally sleep in your own bed. When we go up, we read 2 stories then talk about your day. We go over what we did and then talk about the happiest and saddest parts of your day.

8. Every morning when you wake up, you come to my bedroom to declare "it's morning!" Most days I can convince you to climb into my bed and cuddle for a few minutes.

9. The other day during bedtime, Justin asked you if you were farting because you looked like you were kinda scrunched up/straining. You said "No I'm making bubbles in my butt" and Justin said "that's farting" and you said "No, making bubbles."

10. You say 'paloon' instead of 'balloon' and often pronounce 'basket' as 'bastek.'

11. Last weekend you started learning how to use the mouse touchpad on the laptop, much to our amazement. You're probably going to surpass my computer skills before you're 8 if you're anything like your Daddy.

12. Your favorite foods are hummus, mac & cheese, slices of cheddar cheese, chips and guacamole, rice and beans and of course anything chocolate.

13. Last night we were doing puzzles online, and you said "Good job Mommy. You're a genius!"

I'm sure there are 100 more things I want to remember about you. Every day, so many moments that remind me how much I love you. But, these are the 13 I remember today.

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March 3, 2010

Toddlers, Books and Bloggers

So, we have a bedtime routine with Sam where we read 2 stories then talk about his day before leaving the room. Last night for the first time, he decided he wanted to read "imaginary" books. He proceeded to fold his hands like a book and hand it to me to "read" to him. He told me it was about Thomas, and I made up a story about Thomas and a zoo on Sodor Island. Justin didn't get it so easy when Sam handed him the second book, called "School Ship" and told him it was about a pirate. HA! There ended up being school kids, a rainbow, and a leprechaun. *Shrug* I guess I need to start thinking of some stories to store away in my head...

*****

I had my first dream two nights ago where I met another blogger. And in the usual fashion of every single dream I have during pregnancy, it was weird.

I dreamed that I was at some kind of school/institution and Adam Avitable was there. We made eyes at each other or whatever and he asked me out. But he had a SECRET. You know what it was? He had been bitten by a poisonous spider and was the only human in existence who was immune to it's poison. But since he'd been bitten, that meant that he could transfer the poison to other people through any kind of bodily fluid, and had to be really careful, because the poison would almost immediately kill anyone else.

The dream ended before we actually went on our first date, but I remember we were texting and he told me that we were going to Burger King for our date. But I was okay with that because I liked him.

Um... okay? I can only imagine that the dream was somehow triggered by this post, in which he revealed that he is now pretty hot stuff.

*****

So, I finally convinced Sam to take a bath willingly yesterday morning. And I finally found out why he has been resisting the bath lately, and not wanting to take one. After I put him in? He held on to his penis for the entire bath. Because he doesn't want to pee in the bathtub. Since he is not potty trained, this is a conundrum. I tried telling him it would be okay if he peed in there, it's not going to hurt him, but he said it would. I later asked what would happen and he said it would make him sad. He insists that it is not okay to pee in the bath and he needs to go in the potty. The problem is, he doesn't know how to do that yet. He can hold it, and he'll go TO the potty, but doesn't know how to relax and let it out once he gets there. So, I don't know what this means for bathtime... He just played with one hand and had an okay time, but I don't want him to feel anxious when he used to enjoy baths so much. Any suggestions?

*****

I went to the bookstore yesterday and discovered that there was a new Laurell K Hamilton Anita Blake novel. I bought it of course. Although I hate these really short novels she's put out a couple times - the actual story is only 157 pages. C'mon man... I can't resist buying them in hardback because I crave the LKH.

I also bought "Baby Catcher" which is a sort of memoir of a midwife. While I was there, I discovered the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has a new book out called "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" which I want to read as soon as it's in paperback or the library has it because that's funny. I also wrote down a couple others for my "to read" list. Chris Bohjalian, who I love, has a new book out called "Secrets of Eden" which sounds quite good to me. I also saw a book called "The Real Grey's Anatomy" which sounded interesting, and a book in the young adult section called "Hush, Hush" caught my eye. I also want to read the 2nd Percy Jackson book soon.

The books I'm currently reading are the new Anita Blake (should be through it in a day or two), "Hypnobirthing", "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" and "Tempted" by PC & Kristin Cast. What are you reading right now?
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March 2, 2010

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

The last big decision we made last year was to ask Justin's boss to take away the extra money he'd been giving us each month to help pay for our health insurance. The company he works for is small, actually come right now it's just him and his boss. Who doesn't provide health insurance. We've been on an individual plan for several years, and last summer they wanted to raise our rates by $100 a month. We couldn't afford to pay for a plan whose premium had increased 50% over 3 years, and had no choice but to switch to a cheaper plan with a MUCH higher $3000 deductible. About 2 months before we got pregnant. Sigh...

SO, we looked into maternity insurance through the Department of Social & Health Services (DSHS) and children's medicaid. And found out we were only about $300 away from qualifying for coverage. So, we asked for a pay cut. I'm not going to talk about how it made me feel that we had to do that. I value my husband highly and his company does not value him to my standards.

We got our letter this week saying that we are qualified and will be receiving our medical coupons shortly. It has taken a huge weight off my shoulders because we would have ended up paying for over $3000 of the birth, and if for some reason I have to transfer to the hospital? It would have put us right back in a huge debt rut. As it is now, we have payment plans for ultrasounds I had last year, and it will take us 10 months to pay off the full bill. Despite the fact that we have moved into our father-in-law's house, we still struggle financially. This month is the first time in a long time that I've seen a little light at the end of that tunnel. That maybe we can get on a budget next month that will actually allow us to replace the money we had to take from Sam's savings account and start building a small savings account for ourselves. It cuts our monthly health insurance cost by more than 50%.

In addition to covering me for maternity, it covers all other healthcare during this time, including dental. This means that I will be able to get my fillings and get my teeth cleaned, which we have not been able to afford. We also qualify for WIC. The main reason that was another weight off my shoulders is because of the breastfeeding issues I had with Sam - mainly that I wasn't able to. So I have found myself thinking with some sense of dread about the cost of formula. I know the second time is different, but between my history, my mom's history, and the way things have developed this pregnancy, I am 100% certain I will at the very least need to supplement with formula. WIC will also pay for basic things for us - milk and cheese for Sam and bread and cereal and eggs.

This is another issue that I know can be a hot topic. State assistance can be a real button pushing issue for some people. But I choose to write about it, and not feel like I'm doing something wrong by accepting help when I need it. There are people out there who might look down on me because we receive what we do. The reality is that we are good, responsible people. We are not taking advantage of anything, we just need a little help for a little while until something changes. I wish that the people who choose to look down on recipients of state insurance, food stamps and welfare could understand that the majority of the people using it are just in need for a little while. Until we get back on our feet.

I also think it's a major shame that it's not commonplace to talk about financial issues in our culture, which is one reason that I wrote about our bankruptcy several times on my blog. It happens, and it can happen to ANYONE. I know that now because it happened to me, and because I talked about it, I know that almost everyone I know has either had it happen to them or to someone they know. Yet, it is full of shame and quiet. We need to teach our children how to handle their money so they don't end up in the same situations that we have, and I think being open about it is the first step.

In terms of getting back on our feet, keep your fingers crossed in March. Justin has an interview for a computer programming job and I think it would be pretty great. It would mean a pay raise as well as getting insurance through his job again, which would be wonderful.
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March 1, 2010

30 Weeks!?

Really? I can't believe I'm 30 weeks already. At the same time, I can't believe there are still 10 more weeks to go before I get to meet this baby. I'm feeling anxious about it - I really want to meet him!

Things are going well. Other than the back pain I've been having. Walking around seems to help, and I'm going to make sure to go to the chiropractor more often. I've noticed that I'm walking a bit differently, I can feel that my ligaments have been loosening a little and my pelvis is opening up. I meant to buy a heating pad Friday because it felt SO good at the chiropractor last time I went, but forgot while I was out. Maybe this week.

I did my 1 hour glucose screen and passed! I'm still testing my blood sugars a few times a week upon waking and then 1 or 2 hours after eating a meal. So far, I have had almost all normal readings. I am confident that things will continue this way, and that gestational diabetes won't be an issue.

I will post another belly picture soon, I'm not sure it's changed much since the last one I posted at 26 weeks. I feel like I got big really early, but haven't gotten too much bigger since. I definitely FEEL more pregnant though! When I go out, I can't stop myself from looking at my reflection in every surface I pass, and am constantly amazed by what I see. Despite the fact that I feel Danny moving and I have a few baby clothes and things for him, it still seems a little surreal somehow that we're going to have a new little baby in less than 3 months!

We've been taking a hypnobirthing class, which I am enjoying very much. I plan to write about it, I just haven't gotten around to it yet. My first post on the subject should be up later this week! I'm also reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and enjoying it. I'll probably write about that when I finish it.

I feel good about the new midwife, and can't wait to continue my care with her. I've been having some emotional turmoil, nothing new has happened, just pregnancy hormones continuing to drive me a bit nuts. I've been having some anxiety and may talk to my midwife or doctor about possibly raising my dose of Zoloft a little bit. I'm find it hard to relax, and if it were only another week or so, it might be okay, but it could be hard to deal with this for 10 more weeks.

According to the internets, my baby weighs about 3 lbs now. I feel him moving all the time, though he sleeps for long periods. A lot of times when he is awake, he likes to dance like a maniac ala Flashdance. It makes me smile.

I still haven't had that many pregnancy cravings, lately I have mostly just wanted orange juice and this pregnancy ice water has been my best friend.

I feel excited that this part of the pregnancy is so... boring I guess! I'm just enjoying it as much as I can and thinking a lot about meeting my new boy.

Aaaand....
I wrote the majority of this on Friday and set it to post for Monday. I actually hit 30 weeks on Saturday, and somehow over the weekend? I feel enormous! I have been a little uncomfortable all weekend, and my belly doesn't SEEM like it's gotten much bigger, but it's definitely fuller, harder... just more BABY. I'm getting tired standing up and today when I stood up one time at church I had weird muscle pains - everything is just shifting around!

In any case, I feel super pregnant. How is it that 30 weeks seem so much more than 28 or 29?? I got photos uploaded tonight, so here are a couple shots from Saturday. Click to see full size or view other photos at my Flickr site.

30 Weeks belly shot:

IMG_2599

The view from above...

IMG_2603

Nice one of the family from Saturday:

IMG_2671

And finally, this one shows how big I FEEL...

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