Sunday, August 30, 2009

No-sew Baby Wrap Instructions

I made a stop at the clearance fabric table Friday night and scored some great stuff. So yesterday I enlisted the help of my wee ones in making two no-sew wraps. One for me and I haven't decided who to give the other one to. :-)

Here are the (extremely easy) directions (I consulted this site to figure out the details)...

1) Buy about 4-6 yards of stretchy fabric (Jersey knit cotton is probably best, but I just grabbed the cheapest stretchy stuff I could find). If you need help gauging how much to buy, this site gives some good direction on the amount of fabric you will need/want. After you get the fabric, you'll want to wash it. After it's washed, check to make sure the edges haven't frayed. (No fraying means you don't need to sew. Fraying means you'll want to turn the edges under and stitch them so it will stop fraying.)...
Read the rest of this post over at my new website!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ask Busca: Breaking Water?

Elizabeth asked:
I have a question I'd love you to explore on your blog. In many of the birth stories I've read, Moms mention having their water deliberately broken by their midwife or doctor. Can this ever contradict a woman's internal timetable for the birth? Does water sometimes not break when it should, stalling labor? Is this practice ever considered an unnecessary intervention?
Busca's babble:

Artificial rupture of membranes (AROM, or amniotomy) is very common. Some care providers routinely break the bag of waters in an attempt to speed labor, especially in women who "fail" to follow the standard labor progress curve (at least one centimeter every hour). AROM is also used to induce labor, sometimes accompanied by prostaglandin gel and/or Pitocin. When an internal electronic fetal monitor is needed (to check baby's oxygen levels), AROM is performed to gain access to the fetal scalp. Sometimes AROM helps doctors or midwives determine whether a baby is in distress--as indicated by meconium in the amniotic fluid.

Can AROM ever contradict a woman's internal timetable for the birth? Certainly. Henci Goer, in her book The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, explains, "[I]f left alone, two-thirds of laboring women reach full cervical dilation with membranes intact, and there are advantages to this" (p. 101). The amniotic sac and fluid serve a valuable purpose--not just during pregnancy, but during labor as well. Once a woman's bag of waters is ruptured, the chance of infection increases. Because of this, doctors and hospitals generally require that a woman with ruptured membranes give birth within 24 hours. (The chance of infection is much lower if vaginal exams are avoided.) So the membranes protect both mother and baby from infection. The fluid cushions the fetus and umbilical cord. Once the membranes rupture, the risks of cord compression and abnormal fetal heart rate patterns increase.

Early amniotomy also carries the frightening risk of umbilical cord prolapse. When a baby's head has not descended well into the pelvis, the gush of fluid can carry the umbilical cord into the vaginal canal where it will be compressed by the descending fetal head. This is an obstetric emergency requiring an immediate cesarean. My blogfriend, Sarah, recently shared her experience witnessing a doctor perform an unnecessary early amniotomy resulting in a cord prolapse and emergency cesarean. Oh that story made me seethe!

Does it hurt to leave the membranes intact? A recent Cochrane review of research assessing the use of AROM in spontaneous labors came to this conclusion:
Evidence does not support the routine breaking the waters for women in spontaneous labour. . . . Amniotomy has been standard practice in recent years in many countries around the world. In some centres it is advocated and performed routinely in all women, and in many centres it is used for women whose labours have become prolonged. However, there is little evidence that a shorter labour has benefits for the mother or the baby. There are a number of potential important but rare risks associated with amniotomy, including problems with the umbilical cord or the baby's heart rate. . . . The evidence showed no shortening of the length of first stage of labour and a possible increase in caesarean section. Routine amniotomy is not recommended for normally progressing labours or in labours which have become prolonged (Smyth RMD, Alldred SK, Markham C. Amniotomy for shortening spontaneous labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD006167. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006167.pub2, emphasis added).
So, AROM carries known risks and apparently few benefits, at least when used routinely as it so often is.

When left alone, sometimes the amniotic sac never ruptures--births "in the caul." I sometimes wonder whether my second daughter would have been born in the caul since my sac remained intact until my CNM broke it at 9 centimeters. Navelgazing Midwife says this about AROM and births in the caul:
I'd heard about an OB that was so disgusted with AROM that he offered a $50 bounty for every caul birth and shelled out thousands before calling the game... proving that it is possible and isn't dangerous and not AROMing did not slow labors down, but, in fact, helped women cope better.
She also shares some of her fascinating experiences witnessing births in the caul. When handled correctly, there is no harm to being born in the caul. Navelgazing Midwife's conclusion? "I find, as time goes by, that I touch membranes less and less. I believe they are there for a reason... will break when ready... and serve a purpose we might never know" (source).

For two out of my three births, my membranes ruptured before the onset of labor. In the future, should my sac remain intact (as with my second birth), I think I'll request that it be left alone.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What do you THINK?

I was sitting at the table eating dinner the other day, and my baby boy started acting like he was ready to nurse. I started thinking about taking him over to the couch to meet his request, and BOOM my milk let-down. I'd wager most nursing moms have experienced this chain of events hundreds of times.

That experience got me thinking. All I have to do is think about nursing my baby and my body responds within seconds. The salivation reflex is similar. You start thinking about something delicious and BAM... your mouth is ready for it with a gush of saliva.

And that got me thinking about how interconnected our thoughts and our biological processes are. Our thoughts can create almost instantaneous physical reactions! How amazing is that?! And how frightening too. It all depends on what you are thinking about.

So let's take this concept into the realm of birth. How can our thoughts affect the birth process? Michel Odent was the first to apply the phrase "fetal ejection reflex" to human birth. Odent has observed that when childbirth is undisturbed, delivery is an involuntary, reflexive process occurring extremely quickly and effortlessly. In order for this reflexive process to occur, a woman must be in a certain type of environment. A California College of Midwives bulletin explains:
For many mothers her need to be undisturbed is balanced by an equally powerful need to be in the “right” place and have family members of great psychological importance, as well as the doctor or midwife present, before she can “permit", at least at a subconscious level, that dynamic labor process to unfold. For those who prefer hospital care, these mothers must have arrived at the hospital before the Maternal-FER [Maternal-fetal ejection reflex] can complete itself (source).
Being at a hospital (or an interventive home birth) can also produce the opposite effect--essentially shutting-down this reflexive process:
One theory explaining M-FER is the role of primitive brain in facilitating the spontaneous processes of labor and birth. This theory also identifies as negative the influence of the neo-cortex . . . and a host of institutionally-originating disruptions such as bright lights, loud noises, coming and going or milling about of unfamiliar people, unnatural, anti-gravitational positions and frequent disruptions provided by invasive procedures such as vaginal exams, catherizations, fussing with EFM belts, etc. The “intensive care” nature of intrapartum nursing in hospitals means most women experiencing the exact opposite of “secure and unobserved” – all these nursing and medical ministrations and application of technology signal the potential for problems. They worry about themselves and their baby and feel very much like a bug under a microscope (source).
Where we are, who is with us, what they are doing, what we are thinking (or not thinking) about... all of these things have an impact on the birth process.

I saw this truth first-hand with my 2nd and 3rd births. My second daughter's posterior on-again-off-again labor didn't kick into gear until I finally said, "This has to be the real thing. We're going to the hospital!" And she was born (still posterior) within 3 hours of that thought. As I labored with my son, I am certain that my thoughts and psychological state slowed the process until my midwives had arrived and my husband was finished putting my daughters to bed. Once all the essential players were present, I surrendered to my body. My son was born less than 2 hours later. Though I wouldn't describe either of these births as fetal-ejection-reflex experiences, they did demonstrate the profound power of our thoughts and emotions as we give birth. (I hope to experience the true fetal-ejection reflex someday!)

It makes me all the more wishful that we could guard all women from negative influences or comments in their labors. A friend told me this week that she had planned and hoped for a drug-free birth with her first daughter, but her nurse told her, "Honey, you can't do it." Imagine what kind of thoughts that negative statement produced in her! Of course she got an epidural. (And chronic back pain at the epidural site to go with it... still bothering her over two years later. Fortunately she was able to have her son without drugs and had a vastly better experience.) Women in labor internalize what they hear. What might be a simple statement can have a huge impact on her thoughts and thus her body.

I'm looking forward to exploring this topic further. What do you think about when you're in labor and giving birth? Do you think it affects the process? I'd love to hear your experiences.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pick and Choose

I've been stuck on the topic of sleep lately. This morning I turned to Google when I started wondering whether my 3- and 5-year-old were getting enough sleep. I found this WebMD site listing the amount of sleep children need at various stages. It also gives tips. Knowing how I feel about cosleeping and night nursing, you can probably imagine how I reacted to this advice from WebMD:
Allowing your child to soothe herself and put herself to sleep unassisted are critical to establishing good sleep habits, sleeping soundly, and preventing future sleep problems. As Mark Weissbluth, MD, says in his book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, "The failure of our children to fall asleep and stay asleep by themselves is the direct result of parents' failure to give their child the opportunity to learn . . . self-soothing skills. . . . Some parents can't leave their kids alone long enough for them to fall asleep by themselves. . . . The major sleep problems in babies 4-12 months old develop and persist because of the inability of parents to stop reinforcing bad sleep habits" (source).
Dr. Weissbluth wouldn't think too highly of us! I might start feeling like a failure... except that my 3-year-old and 5-year-old take a mere 3-10 minutes to fall asleep most nights (without crying) and then stay peacefully asleep until 10-12 hours later. Perhaps I haven't irreparably damaged their "healthy sleep habits" by soothing them to sleep as infants (and toddlers) after all? (Can a 4-month-old really have "bad sleep habits" to reinforce?) Some of my fondest early childhood memories are of my dad singing us lullabies while we fell asleep and my grandma lying down with me until I fell asleep so I wouldn't be scared. Those were moments when I felt an intense sense of peace, security, and love... things I desperately needed at that time in my life (I had an emotionally traumatic early childhood). I'm so grateful my caregivers didn't fret over "reinforcing bad sleep habits" when I needed or wanted their assistance falling asleep.

Thank goodness we can pick and choose our experts! Isn't it funny how you can find opposing "expert" opinions on just about any topic? In terms of infant sleep, I much prefer Dr. James J. McKenna's take on things! He says:
[I]rrepressible (ancient) neurologically-based infant responses to maternal smells, movements and touch altogether reduce infant crying while positively regulating infant breathing, body temperature, absorption of calories, stress hormone levels, immune status, and oxygenation. In short, . . . cosleeping (whether on the same surface or not) facilitates positive clinical changes including more infant sleep and seems to make, well, babies happy. In other words, unless practiced dangerously, sleeping next to mother is good for infants. The reason why it occurs is because... it is supposed to ("Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone").
Of course I couldn't help feeling smug about this one:
Western parents are taught that "co-sleeping" will make the infant too dependent on them, or risk accidental suffocation. Such views are not supported by human experience worldwide, however, where for perhaps millions of years, infants as a matter of course slept next to at least one caregiver, usually the mother, in order to survive. At some point in recent history, infant separateness with low parental contact during the night came to be advocated by child care specialists, while infant-parent interdependence with high parental contact came to be discouraged. In fact, the few psychological studies which are available suggest that children who have "co-slept" in a loving and safe environment become better adjusted adults than those who were encouraged to sleep without parental contact or reassurance ("Babies Need Their Mothers Beside Them").
Thank goodness for access to information. With libraries and the internet, we can examine the differing view points about child-rearing (or childbirth or any other topic) and find what feels right for us. I'm grateful to have found what works for me and my family.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Breaking the rules

When my first daughter was a newborn, I was getting multiple free baby magazine subscriptions and piles of baby-related junk-mail. I guess that's what happens when you pop-up on on the baby-marketing radar screen. And, like most new moms, I was utterly blind-sided by the whiplash of sleep-deprivation and was positively desperate for sleep. So I devoured those baby magazines each month--hoping each time that this issue would contain the secret that would give me back my sleep.

At the same time I was fishing for advice from other women, both experienced and new moms. My grandma urged, "Just let her cry. Eventually she'll go to sleep." Another new mom recommended On Becoming Babywise, by Gary Ezzo, adding that it was the reason her small baby had learned to sleep through the night at 6 weeks.

If there was one cardinal rule of infant sleep among all the experts and moms I consulted, it was this: do not, I repeat, do not nurse (or rock) your baby to sleep!

The problem was that I was already nursing my baby to sleep. I felt right nursing my baby to sleep. I liked nursing my baby to sleep. And I felt wrong letting her cry. In the end, my heart won out over the "experts."

Now, almost six years later, I have nursed-to-sleep and slept-with three babies. Fortunately, I ended my subscriptions to those baby magazines early-on and found my own parenting niche with Mothering Magazine, all things Dr. Sears, and helpful books such as Our Babies, Ourselves, by Meredith Small, and The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley.

I love this excerpt from Elizabeth Pantley's book:
Your baby . . . has learned to associate sucking (having your nipple or his bottle or pacifier in his mouth) with sleeping. I have heard a number of sleep experts refer to this as a “negative sleep association.” I certainly disagree, and so would my baby! It is probably the most positive, natural, pleasant sleep association a baby can have. The problem with this association is not the association itself, but our busy lives. If you had nothing whatsoever to do besides take care of your baby, this would be a very pleasant way to pass your days and nights until he naturally outgrew the need. After all, this is natural. You may not even see this as a problem, in which case it is not. It's all a matter of your perception and your personal needs. (Click here for more excerpts)
I couldn't agree more. It definitely is all a matter of our perceptions and personal needs. And those perceptions and needs can change over time as our children grow older or our circumstances shift.

So I broke the rules. Did it take a long time for my daughters to learn to sleep through the night? You betcha it did! Do I still need to help them fall asleep at night? Yes. (My husband and/or I lie down in my daughters' bedroom almost every night until they fall asleep.) Do I regret my decision to nurse them to sleep and respond to their night-time cries? Absolutely not.

I share this not because I believe my way is the "right" way, but because I want to encourage other parents to "break the rules." Whether it be your grandma's rules, your next-door-neighbor's rules, the baby magazine rules, or your pediatrician's rules... don't let them dictate how you choose to parent your child. When it comes to your baby's needs, YOU are the expert. Follow your heart.

If you're anything like me, it will tell you that there's absolutely nothing wrong with rocking that sweet, precious baby (or toddler, or big kid) in your arms or cuddling them to sleep. In fact, in my view, it's the greatest thing in the world.

P.S. You get used to the sleep-deprivation. :-)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Defining Female Empowerment?

The whole battle between the two camps is due to the faiure [sic] of women in the country to fight for real empowerment. They take up an 'easy' cause, child birth and child raising, to fight for with the enemy that does not exist, other women. Rather than fight men for equal pay (the ERA is STILL not ratified in this country!), equal opportunity, fight sexism, fight discrimination, they pick easy 'battles' with no true winners. My partner calls the breast-home birth-epidural-vaccination battles 'Hen Chatter'. No real substance or results. These arguments do nothing to better the lives and livelihoods of women or our daughters. Filled with hystrionics [sic] and personal anecdotes they are just busy work, like darning once was, for women. Keeps the little women busy and from tackling the real fights. Keep it up ladies and we will remain in the 1960's for another half century. Empowering women is not about how you have a baby!

-Ali (excerpt from her comment in response to "Pushing Back: Has the natural childbirth movement gone too far?" by Lisa Selin Davis)
I linked over to Lisa Selin Davis' essay from the Citizens for Midwifery blog. Initially I expected the article itself to get me riled up. But it turned out to be fairly balanced. Just a few painful jabs. Then I started reading the comments. Why do I let myself read the comments? The essay's title is quite fitting, in fact. Except Jennifer Block's title was making reference to the way women as a whole are "pushed" into less than ideal maternity care. This essay refers to the way women "push" each other. And, after reading the comment by "Ali" above, I certainly did feel as though I had been violently shoved to the ground.

My immediate reaction was... I have to write a blogpost! So I opened-up this window, poised to spill my reaction on the blank screen with gusto. But I stopped myself. I knew I needed to take a breather so I could express myself with a level head.

So I folded our (massive) piles of laundry while my husband and kids scrubbed the toilets and cleaned the bathrooms. Then we all put our piles of clothes away. And we put more loads of laundry in the washer. Now, with my sweet babe napping, and my husband getting lunch ready, I think I'm ready to say what's on my mind. I do my best thinking while completing seemingly brainless tasks, I think--showering, housework, etc. Multi-tasking is fun, no?

Here's what I've been thinking about today...

4.3 million births were registered in the United States in 2006 (source). And the vast majority of women worldwide will give birth at some point in their lifetimes. That translates to a mind-boggling number of births. So, in my view, what happens to women in childbirth is an issue that should matter to all women everywhere.

But, of course, we are all in different stages of life. The issues that matter to each of us are usually those most pertinent to our circumstances. I happen to be in my childbearing years. I have spent the past six+ years totally immersed in childbirth and childrearing. That is where my head is. So I am well-versed in the abuses toward women (and babies) occurring within that sphere. On the flip side, most of my female age-mates have spent the last six years in graduate school and the workforce, building their careers. They would be well-versed in the abuses toward women within their spheres.

Doesn't it make sense for all women to work within their own spheres of influence? What good would I do championing the cause of females in the corporate world if I have absolutely no idea what it's like to be in their shoes? What good does it do for any woman to say, in essence, "What matters to you is meaningless! My crusade is so much better than yours!" It reminds me of the similar sentiment that my work as a "stay-at-home" mother is menial or pointless, or that my career choice is somehow harming the progress of womankind. It is attitudes such as these that have led me to eschew the "feminist" label.

"Ali" accuses me and other birth advocates of fighting with "the enemy that does not exist, other women." But what has she just done? Is she not attacking me and women like me? I have always tried to make it clear that I do what I do to educate, inspire, and empower other women. Not ever to attack them. And, yes, I said empower.

Let's talk about empowerment. I can't tell you how many times I've heard women say, following the birth of their child, "That was the most empowering experience of my life!" I would love to see the day that childbirth is empowering for every woman, and never disempowering, as it is for too many. "Ali" may not be aware just yet, but women across the country are abused daily by their maternity care providers (many of them males). Can't we agree that needs to change?

Women can be empowered in a multitude of ways. Having a salary equivalent to a male executive is only one of them. Shouldn't "feminism" be about what matters to all women, not just about what matters to one small niche of them? Who is Ali to decide what ought to be empowering to other women? Aren't we all entitled to decide that for ourselves?

The fact of the matter is that the childbirth experience is a huge, often life-changing rite of passage for women. And what happens during that special experience matters deeply to many women, and rightly so. How does it harm the progress of womankind for us childbirth advocates to focus our efforts on maximizing the empowerment of that pivotal, life-changing experience? Can "Ali" and her partner really believe these issues are "hen chatter" or "histrionics"? Or that our efforts "do nothing to better the lives and livelihoods of women or our daughters." It is, in large part, because of my love for my daughters that I continue my crusade.

Furthermore, I happen to believe that darning is a valuable lost art--one I very much wish I had. Oh how many hole-filled socks I could have made wearable again!

So, "Ali" wants to get women away from their "needlework" and out fighting the "real fights" in the feminist agenda. I'm glad there are women like her fighting for equality in their realm of experience. But if you imagine all of womankind as a whole, perched on a tabletop, doesn't it make sense that we can't just raise one corner? Shouldn't we all "stand close together and lift where we stand" and improve every aspect of women's lives simultaneously, each exerting our efforts in the areas most suited to us? You work over there, I'll work over here, and together we'll all make a difference? Isn't that how it should be?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ask Busca: Could my doctor refuse to deliver my VBAC at the last minute?

Deanna posted a question on my Birth Faith facebook fanpage. I thought I'd copy and paste the exchange here. My experience with VBACs is limited, so please chime into the discussion in the comments if you have any tips or additional info for Deanna! Thanks!

Deanna asked:
I'm planning on a VBAC (this is my 2nd birth) and I keep having this fear that my OB (who is supportive of VBACs and so far really great) will for some reason as it gets closer to time is going to say that I'll "have" to... have another C-section b/c the baby is too big, or some other excuse. If I don't feel like it really is the best thing for the baby to have a repeat Cesarean, what are my options? Worst case scenario- I don't show up for a scheduled C-section. Can Doctors refuse to deliver the baby vaginally if I come in at 10cm ready to push?
Busca's babble:

It's my understanding that a doctor who refuses to deliver a VBAC (even when a mom shows up at 9 or 10 cm) usually does so because their malpractice insurance won't cover them.

If your doctor is supportive of VBACs, I don't think it's likely he/she will refuse at the last minute. That doesn't mean he/she won't pressure you if they become concerned. But it's your body and your baby, so you can refuse a cesarean.

If your doctor starts playing the "big baby" card, I'd recommend bringing along some medical literature to your appointments showing that planning cesareans for suspected big babies doesn't improve outcomes. They can't argue with the facts, right?

Good luck! Thanks for posting!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Keeping the monster at bay

It didn't dawn on me until the past week or so that I don't want my baby to sleep through the night... until I'm ready to have another baby. Here's why...

It was around the time my girls started sleeping longer stretches at night that my menstrual cycles returned. But back then I didn't have the sense to realize that being without a period every month was far more valuable (for me) than uninterrupted sleep. I longed and cheered for their extended sleep stretches. I didn't know myself and my body well enough, I guess. So my cycle returned after roughly 5-6 months and, with it, the beast.

You see... I would be my best self if I could spend the rest of my life either pregnant or exclusively breastfeeding. As in... having monthly cycles messes royally with that whole "pursuit of happiness" thing. PMS stinks. The few days before my period starts, it's like a nasty demon moves in and starts gnashing its teeth. I hate who I become. I hate the way I feel.

So I did some poking around on the internet the other day and found out about Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM). I think LAM is my new best friend. How did I not know about this before?!

LAM is primarily considered a form of birth control, but I don't intend to utilize it for that purpose. Even so, LAM is roughly 98% effective at preventing pregnancy in the first 6 months after birth when practiced correctly. You must answer "no" to each of these questions in order to rely on LAM:
* Have your menstral cycles returned?

* Are you supplementing regularly or allowing long periods without breastfeeding, either during the day (more than three hours) or at night (more than six hours)?

* Is your baby more than six months old?
Dr. Sears' website shares the following tips for using breastfeeding to delay ovulation:
1) Practice unrestricted breastfeeding without regard to schedules. Usually six to eight breastfeedings a day will suppress ovulation.

2) Don't train your baby to sleep through the night. (The milk-making hormones that suppress ovulation are highest between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.) Nighttime nursing is important to the suppression of fertility. Sleeping with your baby facilitates unrestricted feeding at night.

3) All of baby's sucking should be at the breast, for comfort as well as food. Avoid the use of supplemental bottles and pacifiers.

4) Delay the introduction of solid foods until age six months or later. Solids should provide additional nutrition, not substitute for breastfeedings.
Fortunately I'm already doing most of these things. But before I learned about LAM, my resolve was wavering somewhat. Bubs is so interested in food and eating. I'm so tempted to introduce solids to him. And what sleep-deprived mother doesn't salivate at the thought of uninterrupted sleep? So I'm grateful to now have a clear purpose to motivate me--keeping the monster at bay. All of Dr. Sears' tips will be beneficial to my baby anyway, so it's all the more reason to embrace them whole-heartedly. I love LAM.

Here's hoping it all pays off. I'm encouraged by this statement from Dr. Sears
[R]esearch has shown that women who practice natural mothering according to the above rules will average 14.5 months without a period following childbirth. Remember, this is only an average. A few mothers will experience a return of menstrual periods by six months, others not until two or three years (source).
No period for years?! Music to my ears! :-)

Friday, August 7, 2009

For those who ache

I was perusing Kayce's Doula Journey today and found her post about infertility. She shares an article by Vita Alligood entitled, "Infertility Etiquette." I also found it at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.

Every once in a while I get thinking about how incredibly blessed and fortunate I am. I have only experienced a few short-term struggles to get pregnant (9 months and 5 months). I cannot even begin to comprehend the heartache of those women who spend years with anxious empty wombs. Becoming a mother was always my most cherished dream. I know I would have been utterly devastated to be denied that greatest wish. I learned a lot from Vita Alligood.

I must admit I'm guilty of "playing doctor." Vita Alligood urges, "Infertility is a complicated problem to diagnose, and reading an article or book on infertility will not make you an 'expert' on the subject" (source). While I've never claimed to be an expert, I am guilty of reading a few websites and thinking I have something to teach people who struggle with infertility. Even when I haven't outwardly proclaimed to have wisdom, I have often thought to myself, "There must be some explanation!" or "I wonder if they would just (fill in the blank with something I read on the internet) maybe that would work?" Who am I kidding?! I feel ashamed of myself. I want to let myself off the hook by acknowledging that my intentions were good. I just really wanted to help! But that doesn't excuse my arrogance.

There are several women in my life who struggle with this heartbreak. I thought a lot about them during my recent pregnancy and postpartum period. I wondered if seeing my bulging stomach and then tiny newborn caused them pain. No doubt it did. I would ask myself often, "How come I get to have this blessing and they don't? It's not fair!" Sometimes I feel guilty that pregnancy and childbirth are so easy for me. But I know it helps no one to punish myself for my blessings.

Vita Alligood concludes, "So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say 'I am giving you this baby,' there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn't your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lessen the load" (source).

So I resolve to stop "playing doctor." I resolve to do whatever I can to "lessen the load" of my friends who struggle. And I resolve to never take my children for granted or complain about them. No matter how difficult it is to be a mother at times, I would never wish those trials away because they mean I have children to love and be loved by, and they are beyond worth it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Dooce finally posted her birth story yesterday, as her billions of readers are already aware. (Sorry, I only started reading her blog when she wrote her first labor story installment. I'm behind the times.) In typical Dooce fashion, it is full of witty sarcasm and oozing expletives. But, of course, hilarious! My favorite part:
I guess the hormones kicked in, or maybe it was the sharp contrast of going from that amount of pain to none at all, but I was totally high. Like, ten lines of cocaine high. HIGH. And that feeling was so strong and lasted so long that for two days straight all I did was stare at that baby and fall madly, deeply, ferociously in love.
Oh yeah. I know exactly how that feels. I didn't sleep the night after my Bub was born. I literally couldn't. All I could do was stare at him. Ferociously in love is exactly how it felt (and still feels). I can't wait to do it again.