Friday, May 24, 2013

Epic boob fail… coming to you LIVE (or the art of breastfeeding in public)

Breastfeeding happens anywhere, any time, in public and private. I am so used to pulling the girls out that it is inevitable that one day I'll give the live version of my birth announcement faux pas. 

Some people find breastfeeding in public offensive. Some people only find it offensive if the mom is indiscreet. This blows my mind. I find no shame in feeding a hungry baby any time she needs me to and I certainly don’t feel I have to cover up to do so. It is one of the most natural and loving things for a woman to do. Mothers should NEVER feel ashamed for doing what is completely natural. I celebrate these women (including moi).

Luckily, most states have gotten on board and support breastfeeding mothers. And if I ever see someone get the stink eye (including myself), I have no problem standing up for our rights (human, civil, and mother).
I've already sent my boob out to everyone I know when I accidentally photo (boob) bombed my birth announcement photo. And now that I’m so used to whipping ‘em out and breastfeeding, I know one day I’ll stand up and walk on down the street, my boob winking at the passersby. People pay good money to see a shot of a naked breast and I'll be giving it away for free!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Move over grandma!

I just took my first fitness class at my new gym. I'm easing back into the fitness routine but I think I took it a little too easy.

I should have realized something was amiss when I stepped into the studio and the music began playing at half speed and half volume. Remember the days when the batteries ran low on your cassette player and it sounded like a cat dying? Yeah, it sounded like that. The next clue was the playlist; The Supremes, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, The Four Tops. As I took my fellow fitness-mates in, I realized I was the youngest person in the class by forty years.

The class was called Forever Fit. That should have been my first clue.

All the ladies were really nice but they were a bit curious as to why I took the senior aerobics class.  I told them I'd just had a baby so I was taking it easy. Excitedly they explained how the class differed each day of the week and that I could use heavier weights to make the class more challenging if I needed it and that some days they even did a bit of yoga. I didn't have the heart to tell them I took the class by mistake, so I might just have pull my Depends back out and grab a bottle of ginkgo biloba and say hello to my little friends every week.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I got lazy and changed my darling girl on my bed last night. As I slipped her wet diaper off and strategically began scooting the fresh diaper under her, she had a poop explosion all over the bed.

Baby: 1
Mom: 0

Monday, February 25, 2013

Aussie speak

On a recent trip to Australia a friend asked me if I wanted to nurse her baby. I looked at her like she was nuts. Was it a common practice to let friend's breastfeed each other's babies in Oz?  And I didn't even have a baby at the time, so I certainly didn't have any breast milk. It didn't take me long to realize Aussies speak a completely different language when it comes to all things baby.

If you came into my home right now and listened to my in-laws and hubby speak (all Australians), you'd think you'd walked into a foreign country.

Aussie Speak:

After waking up from a nap, grandpa took baby out of her cot, changed her nappy, gave her a dummy, wrapped her, patted her back to get rid of wind, gave her to grandma to nurse, went for a walk in the pram, and then gave her to mummy for a feed.

American translation:

After waking from a nap, grandpa took baby out of her crib, changed her diaper, gave her a pacifier, swaddled her, patted her back to burp her, gave her to grandma to hold, went for a walk in the stroller, and then gave baby to mommy to nurse.

It's three against one in the house right now so even I have begun to say cot, pram, and nappy. But it won't last. My hubby has come to terms with the fact that his daughter will use American terms and speak with an American accent, much to his dismay. 

But I have conceded to feeding her Vegemite (a black, tar-like spread that Aussies love with a passion, but Americans gag on), so we're even.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Epic boob fail

What's the first thing I did after giving birth? Send a picture of my breast to everyone I know, including all my husband's work colleagues. It was in one of the pictures attached to the birth announcement email. Epic fail.

But that's not all. My mother also sent my breast out for all to see and I posted it on Facebook. Luckily my sister caught it and I took it off Facebook but it is still in the inbox of everyone I have ever met. Or at least it was.

On the bright side, if there was ever a time for my boob to be out there, it is now. The girls have never looked better.

Don't scurry off too fast to go searching through your inbox...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Home, sweet homebirth

My baby girl is out! 6lbs 6oz, 19.5 inches.  Push ‘em out small, fatten 'em up later!
It has been almost six weeks, and she has already gained three pounds. She’s got a belly and a double chin. You go girl. Own your chubby cheeks!
I know there were haters out there, whom, when I said I was planning a homebirth, smiled at me but were really thinking, Ha! She has no idea what she’s in for! Just wait until she feels the pain. She’ll be screaming for an epidural!
I did not scream. Not once. Er… at least not until the pushing, but it was more like an animal grunting in the wild than a scream. The birth was as amazing as we’d hoped. It wasn’t a day at the spa but it certainly wasn’t me screaming in pain as if my arm were being chopped off. The pain was manageable and not once did I ask or want to go to the hospital.   
It all started the morning of Sunday, January 13, 2013.
For some reason I thought the first sign of labor would be the appearance of my mucus plug (basically, this is exactly what it sounds like, it plugs up your cervix until the baby is ready to be born and then your cervix releases it and it comes out your vag). During the final weeks, every time I went to the bathroom I looked eagerly into the toilet to see if there was anything slimy in the water. Peeing was a very exciting experience during that time.
I never did see that mucus plug.
The morning I went into labor (a week before my due date), I was all ready to get up and finish the last minute chores and projects before baby came. It was going to be a big day. And it was, but not in the way we expected.
As I lay in bed, I suddenly felt like I was peeing myself. I stood up and saw that my sweatpants were wet. I changed into another pair and they were immediately wet. That’s when I knew I was beginning labor. I put on my trusty Depends, that’s right, Depends (my sister-in-law suggested I buy them, because even after your water breaks your body keeps producing amniotic fluid, which continues to flow out).
My mother, my hubby, and I began racing around the house in a manic state, preparing everything for the birth. I’d been told that early labor can last many hours if not days, so I had the rest of the day mapped out with lots of activities. I got to do one of them. A walk on the beach.
After the walk, I had a contraction that made me rethink leaving the house again. Instead I put on the Golden Globes Red Carpet and in between contractions I watched the best and worst dressed (Lucy Liu what were you smoking!). Soon I left the red carpet behind, and Mick and I departed into our bedroom.
I lay on the bed snuggled up to my boppy pillow and the rest is a timeless blur. Mick put me into hypnosis (which does not take the pain away, but lessons it and makes it more manageable and puts me into a kind of deep meditative state). Mick stayed by my side the whole time and I breathed through every contraction, not a peep was heard from me until the pushing. I had the lights low and spa music on during the entire labor.
I never, not once wanted to go to the hospital or had a thought that I couldn’t handle it. I did have thoughts like, “maybe next time I should have an epidural. That might be nice.” That thought usually came in the middle of a long contraction but would soon disappear when I relaxed in between.
That’s the thing. You get breaks between every contraction. And I’d just lay peacefully, undisturbed, in my home, in my bed, until another came.
At 11pm the midwife checked my dilation for the first time (they’d been checking my vitals and baby’s vitals the entire time). I was at 9 and 1/2 centimeters (you push at 10 centimeters). When I heard that I was wanted to scream HELL YA!!!  
Next was the pushing.
I moved into the birthing tub, which was set up in the nursery (our daughter was born in the her own room- how cool is that), and I did not need to be told when to push, it was on my body’s terms. And trust me, you know when it is time. When you push you let out an involuntary grunt at the end. And when I say grunt, it is low and loud. It was the first noise I’d made since active labor began.
Pushing was intense and euphoric all at the same time. But I had a little surprise waiting for me each time I pushed... my regurgitated lunch. Yep, with every push, I also vomited. And I NEVER vomit. I can shoot back ten tequila shots, a dozen beers, and five bottles of champagne and never vomit. So this was quite a shock. My hubby said the bigger the push, the  bigger the spew.
The good thing about pushing is, you get a bigger break in between them. And all I can say is, I was so relaxed and aware during this time that I had the foresight to realize pictures would be coming soon. I had a feeling my eyes look liked a panda bear from the mascara I'd put on early that day (next time wear waterproof or nothing!). My husband confirmed my oh-so-scary eyes and I looked up at my mamma and asked for some eye make-up remover. Once that was done I was ready for baby.
After an hour of pushing the midwife told me to reach down and when I did, I could feel the feathery hair on my daughters head, ready to crown. I made a decision right then that it was time. I was done with all this pushing. When the next urge came I pushed like a motherf*cker, and got her head out. Then during the next urge I pushed again and out she came! Those last two pushes are called the ring of fire, and yes, it felt fiery as I pushed and it hurt but I was so excited it didn’t matter and it was over quickly. Out of everything, the pushing was the most intense but I didn’t mind it. Or maybe I just have a bit of amnesia.

I don’t care! She came out and she was healthy and I was in a state of euphoria that I am so thrilled I got to experience drug free. And thirty minutes later, after birthing the placenta, I lay on my bed with my baby nursing. It was exactly what I’d hoped for. No drugs to interfere with our bonding.
And there you are. I loved it. I will do it again. Just not tomorrow.
One final note: Because I know the women want to know (men, you may want to avert your eyes). Yes, I tore. Only slightly. And no, I didn’t feel it. There was way too much other stuff going on for that to matter. Oh, and no, I did not do a doo-doo in the tub. The vomiting was enough!
Any questions?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Help a new momma out

It used to be that when I went to visit a friend with a new baby, I always thought of the baby and what little gift I could bring for them. But by the time the baby comes, it has everything it needs. Baby showers and grandparents take care of that.

Where the gift is really needed is with the new mom. And I don’t mean a spa treatment (though I’m sure no one would complain about such a treat). I mean a gift like food, extra hands, and your time.

At the end of my childbirth class they gave us a page to put on our fridge for visitors to see. It had suggestions of what friends visiting can do for you- like take out the garbage, load/unload the dishwasher, or bring a meal.

We live in a time where being a supermom is praised and I think the best way to be a supermom is taking care of yourself and baby and letting other’s take care of you, especially in the beginning.

I was horrified by an article I read recently where a woman was gloating that hours after giving birth she was on her Blackberry, answering emails for work. That to me is not a supermom. That is just sad.

Traditionally, in Asian cultures, mothers are treated like a Queen for the month after giving birth. It is called Zuo Yue Zi, or sitting month. The mother’s only responsibility is to feed her child and rest. Her own mother or other members of the community take care of the rest. They see the month after giving birth as the most important of all. The mother needs this time to restore her health and energy and prevent future illness. Overall, it is the crucial time that will sustain the well-being of both mother and baby for life.

I love this idea of taking care of mom so she can take care of herself and baby. Mom has been through a lot over the past nine months and it ends in a marathon called labor. Besides the UFC throw-down her body has just been through, she now has a large wound inside uterus (approx. 9 inches round) that needs to heal- I’m talking about the exposed wound from the placenta. And there may be other parts of her body, lower down, that need healing. So give the girl a break.

Bring her food, lots of food, and good food that will nourish her body (not that it has to be rabbit food- just leave the In & Out burger for a later date). Or show up empty handed, with good intentions. Do a load of laundry, wash a dish, or massage her feet (if she’s had time to wash them!). And if you think the first visit is gonna be about you, stay away. No high maintenance friends needed (luckily, I got rid of those a long time ago!).

Eventually, the new momma will settle into her new normal and she can try her hand at multi-tasking again but during the first few months, the only multi-tasking she should be doing is feeding the baby and having her back rubbed.

I wish I had known this sage advice before now. I would have been a much better friend to the new mommas in my life. Sorry ladies! Next time, I’ll step it up!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wait, what did you just say

When I say I’m having a homebirth I have been pleasantly surprised by people’s support and awe. They stare in wonderment at me and say how impressed they are. But at some point in the conversation it will come around to pain. Everyone asks what medicine I will use for the pain. When I tell them not only will I not be using any drugs for pain, but I will not even have the option, that’s when the look of terror sets in. Man, woman, young, or old, it is all the same. I have lost them at this point. I can see written across their forehead, is this woman insane.

It has now become very clear to me that all people think about when they think about labor is the pain. No one can see past it.

Women go to great lengths to protect their unborn child from harm throughout their pregnancy (many won’t put anything more than a Tylenol into their bodies over the nine months), but when it comes time to bring their child into the world to take its first breath the mother yells, pump us up with narcotics to the max!

I definitely thought that would be me, but it’s a funny thing when you become pregnant. Suddenly everything changes and instincts kick in. Through my research, I discovered that labor doesn’t have to be surrounded by fear or pain. And yes, labor will most likely have some pain but it will also have great joy.

There is so much more to labor than pain. Pain is one aspect and there are many tools I can use to manage pain. These tools have been around for centuries, before medical science stepped in and took away a woman’s role in childbirth.

If you are curious, here are some of the tools we have been taught and will be using; counter pressure, breathing, visualization, movement, massage, a birth ball, birthing exercises, gravity, a rebozo, a birthing pool, and hypnosis. Hypnosis is the tool we will be relying on the most. Women who use hypnosis have a significantly shorter labor and are much calmer (I’ll go into more detail about hypnosis and birth in a latter post).

All those tools aren’t just for pain management. They are tools that when utilized make your labor faster and easier because you are using your body as it should be used in labor, to work together, with the baby, as one unit in an organic way. If the baby is not in the optimal position to be birthed, this can be painful. In a hospital you have no choice (a lot of times) but to accept that the baby is positioned in a way that makes you both uncomfortable and sometimes will even mean distress for the baby, which can lead to a C-section or a painful labor.  Yet, if you use a rebozo, or get up and move, or let gravity assist, the baby will work with you and shift to a more comfortable, safe position.

Women have been giving birth for thousands of years and in many countries around the world (yes, I’m talking first world countries, too) do not use pain killers and/or only use something like nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to take the edge off (Australia, for example), which is not even offered here.

I know that my body knows how to birth a baby, just like a cow trusts her body to birth her calf (okay, that is the only time I’ll be comparing myself to a cow!). And, yes, thank God we do have the medical professionals to be there when or if a mother or baby does really need it.

I have met and seen a multitude of women who have given birth naturally, without pain killers, and the question that is always asked is, “would you do it again?” And the answer is always a resounding “YES!” 

That tells me everything I need to know.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Why me... why not me?

We have dealt with our fair share of challenges this past year; our continuing struggle with infertility, months of IVF, which happily ended in pregnancy, then, just as we past the three month hurdle and settled into a safe pregnancy, hubby was diagnosed with the Big C, but we dealt with it all and moved forward and for the past few months everything has been running smoothly. And not once during this year did I ever really say to myself, why me?

There may have been a fleeting thought of the why mes but it wasn't until I was on that examining table this week and was told the baby had turned breech that I felt a deep down, overwhelming feeling of the why mes? Why another challenge? I thought we were past all this!

But, again, I did not let the news cripple me. I spent the twenty-four hours between being told the baby is most likely breech to going in for the ultrasound to confirm her position, doing everything I could to spin her back into the optimal head down position.

And I am thrilled to say, she is no longer breech! The midwife may have been wrong about her position to begin with but I had been saying to my husband for two days before we went in for our check-up that the baby's position felt different but I thought I was just being paranoid. And maybe I was. But who cares! The ultrasound has now confirmed she's no longer breech.

And we got to see our little one on the ultrasound again, which we hadn't done since she was twenty weeks. It was exciting to see her taking practice breaths, yawning, and sticking out her tongue.

But I still think about that moment of the why mes. It was only for a moment but it hit hard. And yet, I did not let it take me down (okay, I only had 24-hours of thinking the baby was breech and maybe if she had stayed breech I would not be so unfaltering).

In the long run, a breech baby is something that would soon be forgotten once she was out in the world in my arms, healthy and happy. Would it really matter how she got here? Maybe. I do believe natural birth has countless benefits for mother and child but I have to believe that however she gets here, the joy will override any disappointment from not having my optimal birth plan. I may mourn the loss of my plan, as many mother's do, but it would hopefully be eclipsed by the beauty of bringing life into this world.

Or, at least this is what I say now that I know that we are back on track. Ask me again once I've gone through childbirth.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A breech of trust

We had quite a shock on Friday when we were at our prenatal visit. As the midwife was feeling the position of the baby she informed us that our little one had turned into a breech position. I immediately burst into tears because it was quite a large wrench to throw into our plan for a homebirth.

Our little girl is in what is called a "frank" breech position, which is the optimal breech position and contrary to popular belief in America, you can safely deliver breech babies naturally. Luckily, we are working with one of the doctors in LA that specializes in vaginal breech delivery (Dr. Stuart Fischbein). 

BUT, I am not sure what we're going to do if she stays breech. We only have three weeks until the due date!

I was not anticipating this turn of events and I have not done a lot of research into breech births, so I will have to hit the books. I know I have three options if she stays breech: 1) natural homebirth (if baby stays in a Frank Breech position), 2) vaginal hospital birth with epidural, 3) C-Section. 

But first I'm taking action steps to turn the baby and hopefully I will not have to make one of those decisions. As much as I want a homebirth and I do believe babies can safely be born in a breech position, I'm not 100% convinced, and a woman in labor needs to feel safe above all else. 

We are going in for an ultrasound tomorrow to confirm the baby's position and I will save my reading on breech births until after that appointment. For now, I am doing everything I can to turn the baby. I am all about action!

There is a wonderful site called Spinning Babies which I was referred to in my birthing class and these past twenty-four hours it has become my bible. I am now doing multiple exercises and inversions to spin this baby!

Example of
forward-leaning inversion
I won't go through all of them but most of them consist of me getting myself into an ass up, head down position, so that the heaviest part of the baby, her booty, moves towards my chest and her head moves into my pelvis.

Breech Tilt
My favorite position (because it is the most extreme and comical but also the most effective), is the breech tilt

I lie on an inclined, twin mattress, with my feet up and my head down. I place a warm compress on my pelvis and a bag of cold peas on the top of my belly, to encourage my baby girl to move her head to the warmth. I also place large head phones in my crotch and play Beethoven. No, these were not my awesomely creative ideas, this is what you're meant to do. 

I do this for twenty minutes, four times a day. Sometimes hubby comes in to keep me company and he'll playfully talk to my crotch to encourage baby to move towards his voice. 

Between that and several other inversions I do through out the day, I feel like I'm training for a race again. If these positions don't work, there are many other things I can do to spin the baby but sometimes the baby just doesn't want to turn and I will have to trust my body and hers, if this is what she wants. 

Until then, I will continue my spinning Olympics and start researching my options. Who knows, I could go into the doctor's office tomorrow and find that it was all for nothing, and she is not breech. 

For now, baby and I are going to get our Beethoven breech tilt on as hubby speaks sweet nothings down my pants.