Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Childbirth Recovery: Takes Longer Than You Think

There are plenty of books, pamphlets and internet articles that will confirm that childbirth is a big deal and it can take your body a long time to get back to normal.  So, I'm not going to hash that out.  Instead, I just want to say this:

No matter the details of a birth, transitioning from before to after (no kids to new parents, 1 to 2 kids, etc.) is a big deal.  The body and emotional mind are amazing things - able to adapt and respond in beautiful ways.  But still, it's all a big deal.

Maybe you already know that, but sometimes we don't talk about things the way we should.  My daughter is 2 months old as of yesterday.  It's been 2 whole months since I labored and met her for the first time.  60 days seems like plenty of time to do anything you'd like, right?  Well, I still feel a little shaky.  Physically, aside from the excess weight, I'm just fine.  Tired, but fine.  Mentally, though, I get flashes of normalcy mixed with bizarre time-warp feelings.  Being sad and depressed (PPD) is real and a big deal, but thankfully that's not what I'm talking about.  Life is different and getting used to it isn't awful, but it is hard.

To all the mothers who work full-time and have to return around 6 weeks, I am humbled at your strength.  And I'm not talking about having to leave that precious baby either (that's a whole other mountain I don't know how you guys climb).  Returning to work and being expected to function as you did before isn't unreasonable at all, but you're just not the same.  And sometimes that shows up in the most inconvenient places.  I seem to have trouble talking.  No, really.  I've never been eloquent or warm per say, but now I'm downright awkward and jumbled.  I can't remember words or even concepts sometimes.  My point is that awesome thing that we did (childbirth) creates ripples everywhere and it just takes longer than we think to recover.

Have patience with yourself.  If you aren't a new mother, but work or live with one, have patience with them.  They will amaze you at the things they can do (think up all night with a baby and then takes care of a sick toddler like a pro before a full days work), but don't let that fool you.  What they are doing is a very. big. deal.  And there are hiccups and meltdowns and wrenches thrown.  Be gentle and kind to that hardworking spirit.  In time it will produce fruit ten-fold, just make sure to give it enough time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Childbirth: Know All Your Options

Recently (as in over the last nine months), I watched the television show Frasier from beginning to end.  In addition to getting attached to characters, it was so interesting to see social and cultural changes over time in a sort of fast forward.  Cell phones grew smaller, talk of the internet grew more common and something near the end of the show - as Niles and Daphne are preparing for the delivery of their child - struck me funny.  They considered (out of elitist pressure, I think) hiring a doula to attend their birth, but in the end decided not to because Daphne didn't want a natural birth.  What was funny was how they attempted to portray a doula as something so outlandish that the audience is expected to think it ridiculous.  Less than a decade later, things such as doulas, midwives, and home births are common place and are showing up on everyone's childbirth 'menu' nowadays.

That's one of the things I'm so thankful for in the day we live in.  We have options. So many options.  In case you haven't looked into childbirth lately, there are a lot of options available which means a lot of decisions to make.  While that can be overwhelming at first, you and your family are much better off fully understanding what you're saying yes and no to.  Everyone has a different circumstance and it is vital to know what's available to you.  In short, do your research - you won't regret it.

For those in the OKC area, here are some people I would recommend, if you're considering using their line of work.

Bel Amour Birth Services - Emily Hullet
Grace Full Doula Services - Kathryn Martin
Spirited Birth Services

Community Midwifery Service, LLC
Hands of Grace Birth Services
Heaven Sent Births 
OU Midwives

Oklahoma Birth Network
Glasco Chiropractic
The Changing Table
Green Bambino

One of the things you say as and hear from new mothers is "If I had known...then I would have done things differently."  If you have questions, ask.  If you are unsure, find out.  If you don't know what you don't know, then spend time chatting with other moms.  If there's one thing moms like to do, it's share their experiences.  So, do yourself and the precious children you may one day bear and know all of your options!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

4 Pregnancy Must Haves

Like I said last time, doing something for the second time is quite a game changer.  Just having been pregnant before, made my second one so much easier.  There's less, "what does that pain mean?" and more "Okay, what did I do for that last time?"  So, whether it's your first time on the pregnancy-go-round or you're in the market for some new ideas, here are a few things I never want to do without during pregnancy.

1) Red Raspberry & Ginger capsules are awesome aids for the entire pregnancy.  Red Raspberry is widely known for its medicinal value and especially helpful for nausea and labor/delivery health.  Ginger is also great for nausea, but I especially noticed it's positive effects in digestion.  Heartburn is almost always an issue with pregnancy and when I took Ginger, I hardly had any issues!

2) A great exercise routine makes the pregnancy roller coaster so much easier!  Being in shape BEFORE you get pregnant is what really made things easier for me (with my 2nd), but that's not always possible.  But finding a great habit of exercise that covers all your bases is so important to keeping everything about your pregnancy healthy and easier.  To lose weight after J was born, I used the Firm Express because it was only 20 minutes a workout, you never did the same workout for a month and it covered everything (cardio, weight training, etc.).  When I got pregnant again I continued it with some obvious modifications up until about 7 or 8 months and supplemented with the book How to Exercise When You're Expecting by Lindsay Brin which has great routines and general pregnancy related advice!

3) A nutrient-packed breakfast saved my life this last pregnancy.  Anytime I missed my breakfast smoothie, I felt it.  A large handful of spinach, fruit, juice, milk, maybe some flax seeds and a serving of protein powder.  It seems like a minor thing, but I think the spinach combined with adequate protein does something amazing for my body!

4) A way to cope with stress made a world of difference between pregnancy one and two.   Mr. Butler and I did the birth classes with J so we weren't needing more information, but I was in need of a better approach to this labor.  Blissborn and Ronda at Dynamic TranceFormations Consulting gave me exactly what I needed!  I attribute the self-hypnosis training from Blissborn with staying calm and relaxed during labor.  It is an awesome tool to have for labor and life in general.

Those of you who have been pregnant before, what could you not do without?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Night and Day: 2 Birth Stories

Warning: Birth stories aren't everyone's cup of tea so if you're not into details just skim or skip altogether!
Next week we're going to talk all about babies from pregnancy to birth order since it's all fresh on my mind.  To kick things off, here's my childbirth experiences with my two kids.

If only we could all start with the second time around!  Once you've done something, at least once, it makes more sense.  The advice others give you actually computes and you feel a bit more capable.  This was the case with me.

When I gave birth to my first born J, it was like trying to give a cat a bath.  Before the real contractions set it, I was convinced that it wouldn't be that bad.  Truthfully, I needed to believe that otherwise I would have been in full panic mode.  Thankfully, that came later. :) Everything about this labor took longer.  My water broke one day and I didn't give birth until the next.  Labor started in the wee hours of the morning and he was born at dinner time.  Pushing was almost 2 hours.  Short compared to some I'm sure, but to this girl who had expected a baby by lunch, way too long.  But of course, I made it longer than it had to be because I was so frightened and tense that I mentally (and thus physically) ran in the opposite direction.  There's only one way out and I was trying to avoid it like the plague.

So, the entire experience around J was long, hard and stressful, but there was this one, most beautiful thing about it all.  Once the real contractions began, I didn't think I could do it.  Any of it.  If it wasn't coming right then, well, I couldn't do anything different.  So, therefore, it wasn't happening.  I gave up and looked for a miraculous short-cut somewhere.  The most beautiful thing? I did do it.  In my living room, with Mr. Butler's supportive arms around me and no drugs, I worked harder than I'd ever in my life and gave birth to a beautiful (big - 9 lb 4 oz) boy!

When Miss Z was born, things were practically perfect!  But then why shouldn't they have been? I had many factors working for me this time around - I was in better shape, I knew I could do it again,  I had prepared with hypnosis (Blissborn worked beautifully for me!) and I was just prepared this time.  My due date had come and gone so by when the day finally came we were skeptical of everything.  False starts seemed to be the only thing I ever talked about anymore!  I woke up early to real contractions every 15 minutes for an hour and a half.  We alerted some folks and then they promptly quit.  As in nothing.

Still, Mr. Butler stayed home from work and my mom came over.  I walked, ate, and rested.  We agreed that if things weren't happening by lunch time then he would go back to work.  As if like clockwork, lunch time comes and the contractions start in.  So, what do we do? Snack and play trivia pursuit!  Everything was 12-17 minutes for a while.  Around three (times and lengths are a bit sketchy so forgive me) the contractions are more intense and 7-10 minutes apart.  My mom, who over-prepares, gets a bit nervous, thinking the midwives should be called.  Mr. Butler, who under-reacts to everything, delays calling, thinking we have a while.  And why shouldn't he think that?  It took hours to get from where I was right then to actual pushing.  A few minutes labor the contractions dropped to every 4 minutes or so.  Needless to say, he called.  And then couldn't get a hold of anyone.  So, there was mild panic for a little bit.

After that, things get a bit fuzzy mostly because everything went so fast! About the time the midwife (and attendant) got there, we sent Jude with my sister-in-law down the street.  Before I know what's going on, they are trying to get me to lay down - which I didn't really want to do only because I didn't want to mess with what was working.  But, I had been standing for about 3 hours.  They had a good point.  As I lay down and rest a bit, they checked me and I was dilated to a 5.  Not too shabby, but only halfway there. The contractions grew harder.

You're told that when you get the urge to push, go with it.  Well, I never felt anything like that with J.  I was a basket-case and the only thing I felt with him was "Make it STOP!"  So, as I'm laying down my body starts having a mind of its own and I'm certain its NOT time to push because it was too quick.  And yet, it just wouldn't quit.  So, approximately 30 minutes after they checked the last time I had since dilated all the way.  I was ready to go and this baby was coming.  Mr. Butler and I both were in shock! Less than 30 more minutes (of pushing) and Miss Z surprised us even further.  She arrived at 5:34pm and she was a girl!

Night and day I tell you.  What's so neat is how much (so far) their personalities mirror their births.  J is loud and big.  Miss Z is clear and calm.  And they complement each other and us so beautifully.  God is so wise and good.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Motherhood is Beautiful

This afternoon I had swaddled miss Z up and was bouncing her around (a pre-nap ritual anymore) while perusing facebook.  All in the same scan, I see two separate friends who recently had lost their mothers, some friends who are afraid they are about to lose their mother, and plenty of new baby pictures.  As I look at my daughter, desperately aware of the earth-moving events happening simultaneously, I see a very different picture of being someone's mother.

As a kid, and even a little now, a compliment from my mom is usually a paradox of sorts.  If she fails to compliment or notice something I've done well, then utter disappointment builds up.  And yet, as soon as the compliment rolls off her tongue, my brain smirks and says, "Yeah, but you have to say that.  You're my mother."  And to a point, it's kind of true.  The two kids sleeping down the hallway can throw crazy fits, highlight all of my inadequacies and make every mess imaginable and I'll still giggle at how 'cute' they are at any given moment.  All the milestones are significant mostly because they are being reached by MY child.

And yet, every hour of sleep I lose to feed or rock a baby is a choice.  Every diaper I change or every vegetable I make sure is eaten is a choice.  Mothering, while arguably highly instinctual for some, is most certainly a daily (hourly) choice.   It's a heart-breaking reality that some mothers do not make positive choices for their children - rejecting them, abusing them.  Those that do strive for their children's growth and well-being are much more valuable because we see that they have chosen to mother, when they could have chosen not to.  

Motherhood is beautiful.  Discovering a new human being and teaching them the world all in one breath is amazing.  And mom's do it every day.  But that's not even the best part.  Growth in every way possible creeps into your life, sometimes without even realizing it.  I know parenthood isn't for everyone, but if you're on the fence about whether or not to have kids, this is what tips it in favor.  Those precious little souls (that make me wonder what I did with all of that time I used to have) are changing me for the better.

Miss Z was sleeping and had another hour before needing to eat again.  J had confirmed my fears that he had contracted Hand, Foot & Mouth disease and went to bed loaded up with herbs and a fever.  Most things in the house had been straightened and I was wiping down the counters in the kitchen.  Suddenly, I had flashes of my grandma's kitchen all cleaned up and glowing in the dark from some lighting underneath the top cabinets.  All the kids and grandkids tucked away in a corner or couch somewhere before or after some big holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas.  And the weirdest thing happened.  I didn't resent the cosmos for having to wipe down the counters or clean up dishes.  Having my own kids in their beds and finishing up my household tasks for the night was absolutely fulfilling.  It felt right and comforting and good.

Never before had I really understood why someone (moms usually) would work so hard to provide things like warm meals, clean beds and comforts of home from a place of joy.  It seemed to me they probably did it because no one else would and it was expected of them.  And of course sometimes those are the only reasons anything gets done, at least in this house for sure.  But in that moment I felt the incomparable joy of motherhood.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hello September

And we meet again.  With the passing of Labor Day, Summer is officially out of style.  Fall fever is in everyone's blood, including myself! One of the intoxicating things about fall is the warmth and nostalgia it brings with just a thought, a sense of community and belonging without a word spoken.  I can still daydream about life in the fall and be swept away to this perfect world - all because you mentioned fall or I saw some orange leaves.

I have a lot to say on the subject of fall and how we seem to have lost the value of 'harvest time', but let's leave it at this:

This time of year aches for friendship and a cozy place to be.  One of my weak areas is being friendly and open, especially with those I don't know very well.  I'm praying this season will boost my energy in this department.  Won't you join me?