"Giving birth is an ecstatic jubilant adventure not available to males.

It is a woman's crowning creative experience of a lifetime." ~ Dr. John Stevenson



"The Road Less Traveled..." of Parenthood

Following your instincts instead of the crowd

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference."

Robert Frost

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"To Not Circumcise or to Not Circumcise; There is No Question"

This is an excellent article at Mothering.com on the circumcision issue. Kristen Marie Toutgates does a wonderful job of debunking the common rationales people use for allowing this barbaric practice to be performed on their newborn baby boys. I try to be somewhat tolerant and understanding of people's choice to choose when it comes to medicated birth, vaccines, and the standard American Diet (SAD), but when it comes to routine circumcision of baby boys, as one commenter said, "The bottom line is: it is a violation of a person’s human rights (and dignity) to disfigure their body without their willing consent."

This paragraph from the article goes into that in more depth:

"The “It’s a personal choice” issue. This topic is often, erroneously, considered a “personal choice” of the parent/s. While I do believe it should be a personal choice, I do not believe that choice should be the mother’s, but rather the baby’s when he is grown. It is not lawful for us as parents to remove any other body part on our child simply because we think it might be cleaner & we like how it looks better. When this procedure is done by doctors, it violates the Hippocratic Oath of “first do no harm” & when we as parents sit back & let this painful, harmful procedure be performed, we are violating our oath as parents to protect & honor our children. Technically, circumcision should already be illegal because it is unconstitutional to have a law that applies to females but not males. Females in the U.S. are protected from genital mutilation, but males are not (yet)."

Please read this article if you are a parent or will be someday. It is so very thorough and addresses all the reasons parents give for having it done. I admit, it is absolutely heartbreaking to read the truth about this procedure and its harmful effects if you have circumcised any of your children due to tradition and misinformation. I've been there, done that. But I will be eternally grateful that I have since listened to my instincts and learned the truth before I gave birth to my last two boys.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why I Avoid Giving Birth in the Hospital

This comes from an article posted by Barefoot Birth on Facebook.

‎"Most women I know who have chosen home birth have done so to avoid a 33% c-section rate (or more); a high rate of routine interventions, such as IV fluids, not being allowed to eat or drink, automatic breaking of the bag of waters, internal monitoring, and being confined to a bed; and a higher rate of episiotomies, vacuum or forceps, need for drugs during labor, serious lacerations, infection, and neonatal intensive care admissions. Who wouldn’t want to avoid that?"

What a great summary of why I don't feel safe giving birth in a hospital! Of course there are other reasons why I birth at home (click here for a fantastic and more thorough home vs. hospital comparison) and I have to say that I would go to a hospital if it was medically necessary. In the absence of true complications, however, home is definitely the place for me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why we can't shut up about natural birth

These beautifully written paragraphs come from Heather Armstrong and articulate very well why so many women in the natural childbirth community love to tell friends, family and anyone who willl listen about the births of their children.

"I am sad for your birth not because I pity or judge you but because I wish for you to feel that which others have. I am sad when you walk away from your birth feeling like your baby was the only good thing about it and you are telling yourself they are all that mattered. I am sad when you walk away saying, “That was awful”. I am sad if you cannot bend over, if it hurts to cough or you can’t have sex with your partner for months because of what was done to you.

I wish for you to feel the way I did when my husband and I pulled Xan out of the water together. I wish for you to feel so much joy that you can feel its energy bursting from you. I wish for you to feel incredible, triumphant, so brilliantly happy that you can’t wait for someone to ask you how it went so you can feel it all over again as you retell your experience. I wish for your labour to have been comfortable and safe, where you were free to move around your house or take a walk outside, eat and drink what you wanted and not have to worry about time limits or how the people tried to tell you that your body wasn’t doing things “right”. I wish for you to count your birth as one of the best moments of your life, not just because you met your new child but also because they were so beautifully and peacefully brought into this world that you spent the rest of your days with a new respect for yourself.

Birth is amazing, and I wish for you to feel that way too."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting to Know my Baby

I had an interesting experience yesterday. Even though I'm only about 6 weeks along, I decided to listen to my Hypnobabies Special Place track. I was exhausted and needed the deep relaxation I knew would come from listening to HB. At the point in the script where Kerry says to go deep inside yourself to where your baby is and meet your baby, I really got into it and felt like I was actually meeting her. It was very real. I could see myself holding her tiny 6 week old body in my hand. Then Kerry said, "Say your baby's name." So I did. I said the name I had picked out over a year ago. But something was wrong. Suddenly I knew that was not her name. Her name is not Summer (even though I have loved that name forever). In the same instant I knew what her name is. It is April.

How fitting that is. She'll be born in April and to me that month has always symbolized the Resurrection, New Life, the Joy of Spring after a long cold winter, and Reunion. Just like Joshua, Charles, and Talita, this baby wants to be given a name that will remind me of my Lord and Savior and His wonderful gifts to me. I also had the sense that this little soul is very sensitive, tender and delicate. Now the deep, instinctual desires I've had for an undisturbed lotus birth make even more sense.

These words by Mary Siever came to mind:

"The more people present in an earthly way, the more the spirit withdraws and the less beautiful the experience can be. Many people feel that they have a right to be present by virtue of employment or relationship and do not realize this. To them a baby being born is a medical event that is encircled by blood and amniotic fluid and emergency. But a baby is a spiritual being becoming a physical being. Their spirituality is more present at this time than their physicality and thus their passage into life needs to be gentle and loving so they are not crushed spiritually in the process."

So far I am really enjoying this pregnancy. I feel like I am more intuitive to her, to my body, and to the Lord. What a blessed gift all of this is!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Placenta--Baby Connection

LoveNaturalBirth.com talked with Sarah Buckley about lotus birth and they asked the same question I posed yesterday. Specifically they said,

"For those of us who thought about waiting for twenty minutes, it appears longer may be better. But that is why it’s important to delay cord cutting, but why exactly delay the cutting until it falls off naturally?
Dr. Sarah Buckley states that there are many important aspects to lotus birth, one of them she explains is what’s being discovered in primal therapy. She says, “In primal therapy it’s (the placenta is) like the baby’s first possession, the baby’s first object, the first other, even though actually genetically it’s made out of the same material of the baby, it’s part of the baby. But the baby experiences it as the other. And the ultrasound has seen babies licking the placenta and putting their head against the placenta.” What we are seeing is the baby is very sensitive to the handling of the placenta.

Many times babies will start to cry as soon as the doctor, midwife, or other person goes to cut or handle the cord. If we watch birth videos we can see that when the cord is cut is often the exact timing that the baby suddenly goes into distress, this can be emotional or physical. And according to Sarah, this continues on until after the cord has fallen off naturally.

In Sarah’s interview she shared her experience of being at a friend’s house where the baby was upset, and the placenta was cold, and after warming up the placenta the baby was once again calm and happy. What’s important to keep in mind is what our babies are communicating. Sometimes people are undecided about if they are really going to share this experience with their baby or not, but as soon as they start to handle the cord, they realize that baby is unhappy. If you are on the fence, leave some space for baby to have baby’s say. Just because they don’t have the words, doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating!"


I remember when it came time to cut the cord with each of my 3 homebirths, and each time I felt an instinct that said "No! I don't know why, but no!" but I always let my rational mind take over and I'd tell myself that the cord had stopped pulsing so it was okay. I'm still thinking about this emotional connection issue, but I'm becoming more inclined to give my baby the benefit of the doubt and let her decide when she doesn't need the placenta around any more.

One other interesting thing that came out of this interview was the issue of lotus birth versus placenta ingestion by the mother. Dr. Sarah Buckley states

"But I think as far as my point of view, through having three lotus births, I regard the placenta as belonging to the baby. So, personally, and this is my personal opinion, and other people are free to do what they want to do, but personally I would only do that in difficult circumstances because I really think the placenta belongs to the baby. I have heard of people who’ve done a bit of both, eat a little of the placenta and had a lotus birth. After a lotus birth it is pretty hard to care for a placenta so that it’s edible afterwards. I generally don’t recommend that people do that after a lotus birth."

When I first started feeling like this baby wanted a lotus birth, I remember feeling a little selfish for also wanting to dry and encapsulate the placenta for myself. I thought I was just being weird, but maybe my spirit was really trying to tell me something. Hmm... This is all very fascinating to me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Seriously Considering Lotus Birth

Ever since I read Sarah Buckley's article on Lotus birth, I have been much more open to the idea. I really feel like this baby wants this kind of a birth. Today I just read some very compelling paragraphs at http://www.lotusfertility.com/ that have all but convinced me this is what I want to do.

First, an explanation to what lotus birth is:

"Q: What is Lotus Birth exactly?

A: The practice of neonatal umbilical intactness - nonseverance of the umbilical cord - and absence of any potential portal of navel infection. The birth practice of the early American pioneers who produced some of the hardiest children known in American history... and valued everything they had. Also called "Umbilical Nonseverance." The baby, cord, and placenta are treated as one unit, as they are all originate from the same cellular source (egg and sperm).

This informed choice practice requests healthcare providers to follow the protocols of "Passive Management" of Third Stage Labor, and also forego invasive cord clamping. The baby is born and remains attached to its cord while the placenta is birthed. The baby's placenta-cord is kept in-situ with the baby, gently wrapped in cloth or kept in an uncovered bowl near the mother, and the cord is sometimes wrapped in silk ribbon up to the baby's belly. The cord quickly dries and shrinks in diameter, similar to sinew, and detaches often by the 3rd Postpartum day (but up to a week in certain humid indoor air conditions) leaving a perfect navel. Interestingly, extended-delayed cord clamping & severing (just waiting more than an hour after the baby's birth), results in quicker cord stump healing, with an average of only one week for detachment of the stump, which makes a big difference for diaper changing!"


Now, my favorite part:

"Q: Why bother to question cord-cutting protocols? Why change family traditions?

A: Care providers and parents who have experienced Lotus Birth babies observe that they are demonstrably more relaxed and peaceful babies who do not manifest the common (and stressful to baby and mother) 1 lb. newborn weight loss and breastfeeding jaundice that is associated with the first week of life after "normal" birth's cord cutting, particularly cord cutting within an hour of birth. These observations have yet to be studied by university hospital pediatrics, though hospital lotus births have taken place in Australia. Needless to say, a beneficial impact on child and family development is what motivates the exploration of non-severance options.

These intact Lotus babies lose no energy just trying to stabilize their systems in the early postpartum hours and this shows on all levels (relaxation, bountiful healthy weight gain, core muscle strength, fine & gross motor skills, and alert observation of the world around them). This could be called 'accelerated development' but that would be a misnomer: Lotus babies are simply undiminished by stress in a very stressful culture. Their greater capacity for relaxation, compared to nurslings who had early cord severance and placenta loss, is apparently a metabolic foundation for life, and makes teething and other developmental stages much less distressful. It could be concluded that Lotus birth gives babies lifelong coping skills."


An exaggeration? Maybe. But the more I read about it, the more I'm convinced Lotus Birth is nature's way of easing the transition from womb to outside world and giving a newborn baby every possible advantage to surviving and thriving in their new world.

No one can deny the "ick factor" involved in carrying around a deteriorating placenta for 3 days to a week, but despite that, I still want to do this for my baby. I just need to research how to reduce the unpleasant aspects.....

The article ends with this beautiful and interesting description of lotus-born babies: "Lotus babies typically grow, glow, and gaze with a uncommon infant VITALITY that brings total strangers to surprising spontaneous states of joy and reverance."

I say interesting because this was a common reaction to my baby Talita, who was not Lotus-born. She did have a peaceful homebirth, though. It begs the question: Are these noticeable characteristics in babies due to the non-severance of the cord? Or rather to the delayed cord clamping and the other gentle birth practices that usually go along with home-birth? I'd be interested to know the answer (although how could it ever be definitively ascertained?) because I'm also interested in the idea of drying and encapsulating the placenta for the maternal benefits of PPD reduction and increased milk production. Would the practice of delayed cord clamping for, say, 3 hours or so, and then placental ingestion be the best of both worlds? I mean, if the baby receives all the physiological benefits from the placenta within 3 hours, (I don't know if this is true or not) then why go through all that work of of managing the placenta for several days?

Talita did lose weight and she did get slightly jaundiced. Would that have changed if I had waited a couple of hours to cut her cord? Or would it have required a full lotus birth to eliminate those problems?

In absence of true research to determine the answers to these questions, I guess the decision to go full lotus or just delay the clamping for a few hours depends on how you view the metaphysical aspects of the placenta. I've read what I consider some pretty far-out ideas equating the placenta with guardian angels, with some cultures actually worshipping the placenta like a shrine. My own personal opinion is that this is misguided. However, I am intruigued at the fact that the placenta resembles the "Tree of Life" and I do seriously wonder how spiritually and emotionally attached the baby is to their placenta. Do babies really need and/or want to keep their placentas attached until they're ready to let it go? Or is this just a misguided new-agey idea that parents have come up with?

I guess I have more pondering, meditation, and prayer to do in order to know what is best for this sweet baby and what she actually wants me to do.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Family reactions

I've decided to keep this pregnancy a secret from my extended family and friends for as long as possible. (I'm pretty sure that few, if any, of them read this blog. They think my health practices are a little eccentric to say the least.) I really want to tell a few friends who I know would be happy for me and supportive of it. However, at my age I realize that most people would be horrified to learn I was pregnant again. That's sad, but it's a part of our culture. Of course, considering how fast my tummy begins to protrude with each subsequent pregnancy, it may become obvious pretty fast. Nevertheless, I am determined to keep my happy little secret for as long as possible. I also want to keep my "bubble of peace" as strong and intact as possible.

When I showed my husband the pregnancy test I had a sudden and very determined thought that I was not going to allow anything negative to enter my mind about this pregnancy. I know that's easier said than done but so far so good! I feel that thought came from a higher source and I will do my best to follow it. I believe it's extremely important to my having a healthy, joyous pregnancy and birth.

When DH saw the test he closed his eyes and gave a little sigh, like "here we go again." But then he motioned for me to lie down next to him and told me he was genuinely happy and that he loved me. I know he was sincere. Although at times, I'm sure he wants to complain or make jokes about attending this child's high school graduation while walking with a cane, he refrains from doing that. He told me that the spirit has told him to accept it and grow with it. One thing about him I can say for certain: when he feels the spirit is telling him something, he obeys! I love that about him.

My son, Joshua, who is 6, almost 7, came into my room shortly after I found out and I was so excited I asked him to read the test (it was the ClearBlue brand that actually shows the word "pregnant") He didn't know what the word meant so I told him it means I have a baby in my tummy. His eyes got huge and he said "YES!" Later on he excitedly told his dad that "mom has a baby in her tummy!" He told him, "I know! I put it there!" I'm not sure what he thought about that....

When I told 4 year old Charles, he said with total astonishment, "Another one?" That was classic. I'm not really sure what my older kids think for sure. I think they are maybe not as enthusiastic as Joshy, knowing that it means potentially more work for them. I think my daughters are a little concerned I may be pregnant at their weddings. (Although neither are engaged right now.)

At any rate, I'm feeling great. The only pregnancy symptoms I have are having to pee all the time and a little fatigue in the late afternoon. I have energy, I am eating right--with a greater motivation than ever to do so--and absolutely love taking my walks up the canyon while listening to my "Joyful Pregnancy" affirmations. In fact I did that the morning I found out. It was just as wonderful and empowering and positive as I remembered. I love it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wow!

Last Saturday I awoke early to discover a surprising but joyous thing. At 45 years of age, the Lord has decided to bless me with one more child. The last 2 years have been somewhat of a roller coaster in that regard. Immediately after my 7th child was born, I kept saying, "I'm so glad that is the last time I have to do that!" Her birth was an amazing experience but I didn't feel the need or desire to have any more children or go through any more pregnancies. That lasted about 2 months. Then I began to feel sad that I would never experience that again. I even wrote a post titled "So hard to say goodbye" about the matter.

But then not long after I finally felt like I had come to terms with the idea of being done having babies I had a dream. I wrote about that dream and a subsequent one in the post "Baby Dreams--Divine Inspiration or my heart just wanting to do it one more time?" DH has been pretty opposed to the idea of adding to our family and so I have tried to give up on the idea. But periodically a spiritual impression would come that would help me to know that there really was one more child who wanted to come to our family. They were tender mercies of the Lord and filled me with hope, anticipation, and gratitude. Perhaps the best impression of all was that I didn't need to fret about DH's attitude because he would change his mind before the pregnancy would happen.

A couple of months ago he told me in a rare moment of peace and privacy that ever since he discovered the name I had picked out in case we had another little girl, he had gradually warmed up to the idea. At the exact moment he said this, myheart burned within me. I believe the Lord was telling me that He had answered my prayer and that this was His will.

I thought I would have a little more time to lose the rest of my baby fat, and for Talita to grow up a little more, but in remembering one of my recent dreams I realize that this baby is supposed to be born in the spring. I am so grateful for the Lord's guidance in my life and in His assurance that even at my age, I can have another healthy, joyous pregnancy and birth. YAY!