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    WPPW (Week 2): Birth





    Throughout April, I'm taking part in Lauren Wayne's Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop. This week's theme is "Emerge", and within this theme, the first prompt: "Labor: Each minute in labor is suspended animation. Describe your labor in a poem." Last week's poem's theme was "Prepare".

    Please do join me in writing! (Obviously) you don't need to be a poet to participate; you need only have a bit of courage to put words to paper (and then hit publish.) :)


    Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop

    Birth

     

    The stream hit my back and time stopped. Suddenly the pain - deep, endless, unforgiving - abated. No longer knocked sideways off my feet with each backstabbing impact, I rocked on the stool, riding the waves. Alone with the water, despite a periodic invading scope, I was alone --- with your heartbeat. My hope.

    I was unafraid.

    Hours? Blissful.

    Then, too soon, I was torn out of my own watery womb and back into the bright lights. Pain like an abyss. And the accursed beeping.

    And hands and eyes and words: asking, prodding, suggestions thrown; but I'm mute.

    Fear crept in nauseating swells up my neck and belly. Fast friends with hurt.

    Hours pass. Fretful.

    Fear: a stealthy, strong enemy. And doubt.

    "You can't do this," doubt whispers with malice, climbing wretchedly up my arm to rest - cold - on my shoulder.

    I agree, I succumb, and I go under screaming.

    And still the beeping - terrifying, reassuring; my connection to you, my baby. Arresting sleep, yet keeping me from panic. I drift.

    The tears, my pain, and I lie legless, helpless.

    Numb.

    Oh blessed curse, painkiller. Physical agony gone briefly, I'm weakened by sickening gratitude.

    Pain usurped by guilt.

    This wasn't in the plan.

    And yet still you came to me, from me, through me. Oh perfect baby, wrenched from my pelvis where you'd wedged yourself.

    Birthed through a clean slice, vibrantly belting out your disapproval, voice urgent: I AM HERE!

    Your immense strength nourished my own.

    My daughter, my heart; you made me a mother.

     

    C-Section as Spectator Sport?





    You may have read about the "First baby born on Twitter" (which is, of course, debatable). The first C-section --- perhaps. But not the first homebirth. Or unassisted birth.

    But let's talk about this Twittered cesarean, shall we?

     

    Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX has been advertising their live broadcast of a C-section birth on Twitter & their website, and encouraging people to sign up for an "event reminder" and to "tune in" with varied sensationalized exclamations:

    "C-Section Live on Twitter!"

    " A look inside 2nd most common surgery in the US!"

    " Watch a surgical birth live on Twitter."

     

    They even have their own hashtag.

    Now, mothers (and parents) should be able to make fully informed choices about their own births and should be able to birth in whatever way - and wherever (even on live Twittervision) - they feel most safe.  My issue is more with the hospitals' choice to make a "reality show" out of a surgery, broadcast it on social media, and call it "educational" in the midst of a cesarean section epidemic in this country. The World Health Organization suggests that the C-section rate should not rise about 15% in developed nations, yet, in 2009, 32.9% of all births in the US were cesarean deliveries (compared with 20.7% in 1996 and 5% in 1970).  The rate of C-section in this country is increasing to alarming numbers - in New Jersey, my homestate for example - the rate was 39.4% in 2009 (and NJ is not alone in this), choice in birthing options is becoming less, and this hospital's Twitter account is flaunting the stat of "1 in 3 moms" having C-sections almost as celebratory.

     

    Now, in fairness, Memorial Hermann has indicated on their twitter feed that,

    "We'll explain that C-section is associated with risks & should only be done if necessary."

    I am pleased to hear this, but doubtful; given that they also say:  

    "This is a medically indicated C-section. 39-year-old mom previously had an urgent C-section and chose not to attempt VBAC."

     

    Unless there are other factors we're not privy to, simply having a previous C-section does not make a repeat C-section necessary. Coupled with the following bizarre quote makes me even less than confident that the risks of cesarean sections will fully be explained:

     

    "Join us as we pull back the curtain w/live play-by-play."

     

    Excuse, me? Is this a baseball game?

     

    Cesarean sections are major abdominal surgeries. They are an unnatural state of birth for both mother and baby. They can interfere with bonding, healing, breastfeeding, introduction of healthy bacteria (from not passing through the vaginal canal), and breathing (from baby's lungs not being appropriately squeezed through the vaginal canal). They increase the risk of infection and scarring to mother, and injury to baby. Recovery can be hard. It's not a spectator sport.

     

    I'm in full support of increasing the information to mothers about the choices and options available in birth - from unassisted birth to homebirth to birth with a midwife, doula, doctors, with and without medications, to vaginal birth, to surgical birth. Birth is one of the most amazing and powerful events in a woman's life; and she should always be able to make the choice to birth in the way she wants. But without KNOWING all of the risks and benefits and truths of different birth options, mothers can't make fully informed choices. So when @HoustonHospital says,

     

    "Our goal is to educate."

     

    I'm glad. Education is important and powerful. But can a repeat C-section taking place because a VBAC wasn't chosen, aired and advertised like a sporting event truly be an appropriate or likely venue for educating about cesarean birth?

     

    I am hopeful that the real risks of cesarean-as-normalized-birth will be discussed, that the potential emotional trauma to mother, and challenges to breastfeeding and recovery will be illuminated so that women really CAN make fully informed, educated choices. But, when a birth is advertised as a "HEY! COME CHECK IT OUT!" reality show; it leaves me dubious. It really remains to be seen whether the intent to educate will actually play out.  There's a lot of responsibility wrapped up in this "show".

     

    So, what do you think? Is airing a C-section live going to help educate women about birth? Will it help reduce the rate of C-sections in our country, or will it instead help make C-sections more "normal"? Will you be tuning in?

    Posted: Feb 19 2013, 17:25 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Go to Your Baby





    Don't stand unmoving outside the door of a crying baby whose only desire is to touch you. Go to your baby.

    ~Peggy O'Mara

     

    The latest article from Time magazine on baby sleep has me upset. (Of course, it does seem that's what they're aiming for recently. Remember the skerfuffle they caused over the "scandalous" breastfeeding cover?) The thing with this particular article however, is that it goes a step further than just ruffling feathers, or causing a stir. I'm afraid it may take what many parents may be on the edge of doing, and give them that little push over. What am I talking about? 

    Crying it out.

    Crying it out, or controlled crying, is the practice of leaving your baby to cry herself to sleep - usually at gradually increasing timed intervals - in an effort to "train" her to sleep on her own. Forced independence. There are myriad books and websites and doctors and parents and websites that will help steel you against your babies cries, encourage you to "be tough", and "not give in", leading you to believe that overriding your natural, instinctual NEED to GO to your crying baby, is the right thing to do... in order to "prevent spoiling your baby".

    (photo source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/iskir/)

    Have you ever listened to your baby cry, when you couldn't get to her? Maybe you were in another room, helping an older sibling, or driving your car. It's uncomfortable, physically difficult, painful even. If you're breastfeeding, your breastmilk may letdown, you start breathing faster, your heartrate picks up, you sweat, feel nervous, uncomfortable, unable to focus or settle down. You have those responses because you NEED to go to your baby - it's biologically part of your make up, that connection with your infant. She needs to communicate, just like you need to listen. She's not manipulating you, and you're not giving in, you're both just doing what you're supposed to do to help this tiny human thrive and survive. Without that inadvertant response, our species might be in danger. So, why does this Time magazine article suggest that it's OKAY to leave your baby to cry?

    Because I believe as a society we've come to lose faith in ourselves as baby interpreters. We don't trust our baby's ability to communicate, nor our ability to respond. We don't believe that they'll learn how to sleep unless WE  "do something" to get them there. And yet… we don't actively TEACH our children to talk. We don't TRAIN our children to walk. We trust they'll come to do that on their own. I believe it is time to start trusting that our babies will learn to sleep just as they learn to walk and talk - with gentle encouragement, empathy, guidance, honor, and love.

    It comes down to trust. It's time to start trusting yourselves again, parents. Trust your baby. She knows how to communicate, and you know how to listen to her. You know deep down what FEELS right. Honor that feeling, don't ignore it! You WILL learn each others' language, and baby WILL sleep; it doesn't take training or timers or turning a deaf ear.

    (photo source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/dianabeato/)

    Believe me: this short time when she's not sleeping as much as you'd like…It WILL be gone in a flash. And you will feel SO GOOD to know you LISTENED to her when she cried for you, that you HONORED her feelings, that you TRUSTED yourself AND her. Don't let "studies" sway you.

    You want to go to your baby. So, go to her.

     

    Posted: Oct 23 2012, 23:39 by kelly | Comments (12) RSS comment feed |
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    Attachment Parenting - New York City Edition





    Last Thursday, I received an email from my fellow blogger, author, and friend, Dionna Ford at Code Name: Mama. Turns out it was a good thing I checked my email before heading to work that morning. As, less than an hour later, instead of driving to work, I found myself driving to New York City where I had the opportunity to meet the lovely and eloquent Dionna (and her sweet, nom-able baby daughter) in person, fellow natural parenting blogger Rachael at The Variegated Life (whose children *may* have the coolest names ever), the exuberant attachment parenting guru, Dr. Jay Gordon, and even got to shake hands with attachment parenting advocate Mayim Bialik!

    (Me, Ailia, and Dionna)

    After a three hour drive (yes, you read that correctly. My usual 1hr 20min drive to the big apple took THREE HOURS. I hear the President was in town for the day; so I'd like to thank POTUS - I've never seen the Lincoln Tunnel in such great, and drawn-out detail.), I was more than relieved to take my wrinkly-pants self out of my car, and into the busy studio of Anderson Cooper’s daytime show. The topic of the show segment being recorded that day was Attachment Parenting and breastfeeding; as prompted by the now-infamous Time Magazine cover. While waiting for Dionna to go to “hair and makeup” and then to on stage (squeee!),

    (Dionna, getting pretty)

    we both had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Jay for a good long while. He’s an amiable, straight-talker with a true passion for normalizing breastfeeding and attachment parenting. He also happens to be the pediatrician to several Hollywood stars’ children – which as a complete non sequitur, did make for even more interesting conversation. I highly recommend checking out his site – which I referenced several times myself when my kids were babies.

    (Me, Ailia, and Dr. Jay)

    (backstage view - that's Mayim in the light)

    I was able to watch - with one eye - much of the filming from backstage with babe-on-hip (note to self: everyone wants to talk to you when you are holding a baby). However, I've yet to see the episode in its entirety. Once a full video can be found online, I'll be sure to post a link here! I've been told that, unfortunately, much of Dionna’s articulate responses to Anderson’s and audience member’s questions about breastfeeding and attachment parenting were left on the editing-room floor. I can attest in person, she did a fabulous job of representing the very normal side of extended nursing and natural parenting, and she did so with an air of confidence - in front of a large audience; including some celebrities (speaking of celebrities… while we were waiting backstage, Ailia and I took this photo):

    (Billy Bob Thornton)

    After the show, I was able to talk with Rachael a bit, took a few photographs of the city, then headed back home (a far shorter experience on the way back!). It was an excellent trip, all around. It felt so good to be able to talk attachment parenting in depth with real people - who really got it. I'm hoping, in spite of the shock-value nature of the Time cover, the subject of attachment parenting and breastfeeding will become more a part of the landscape and conversations of parenting in general; less a fringe "extreme" style, and more understood for what it truly IS: a natural and easy way of relating to our children. I'm grateful for mothers who stand up and speak out for what they believe in; together we can change the "norm" of parenting!  

    (Rachel & Dionna - city gals!)

    Posted: May 22 2012, 17:55 by kelly | Comments (6) RSS comment feed |
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    What Attachment Parenting Is (and What It's Not)





    What attachment parenting IS:

    A way to form a lasting, loving connection between you and your children.

    A nurturing, gentle, and compassionate method of parenting and relating to your babies and children.

    A way to build a foundation of trust, understanding, and mutual respect between yourself and your baby that will last throughout childhood and into adulthood.

    A natural and instinctual method of responding to and interacting with your babies and children.

    A validating approach to parenting that encourages you to follow your baby's cues and trust your own innate ability when responding to your child.

    A way to help fulfill your baby's needs through nurturing touch, responsive feeding, close physical contact, gentle guidance, and empathetic communication.

    A style of parenting which fosters security, self-esteem, inner harmony, and independence in your children.

     

    What attachment parenting is NOT:

    A strict set of rules you have to follow.

    Attachment parenting has several guidelines suggested to help you foster the natural connection you already feel for your child. They aren't rules, and you don't have to do all of them in order to be an attached parent! The spirit and basis of attachment parenting is cultivating a deep and trusting connection between you and your children. Things like breastfeeding, babywearing, and cosleeping are all tools which can help you feel closer to your baby and to be naturally and more easily responsive to their needs; but you needn't practice all of them in order to practice attachment parenting.

    A method of parenting that you can only practice with babies.

    The ideas behind attachment parenting transcend babyhood. You don't have to start only when your child is a baby, nor feel like you've missed out! The principles of nurturing touch, empathetic communication, and gentle discipline can be put into effect at ANY TIME in your child's life. EVERYONE benefits from being truly listened to, understood, and respected. You may even find yourself attachment partnering! ;)

    A parenting method only for at-home mothers.

    While having consistant, loving care is critical for every baby and child, there's no reason that care needs to come from ONLY mom! Fathers, grandparents, siblings, and care givers can all care for babies in an attached way. You only need the desire for connection, a willingness to honor baby's cries as valid communication, and the ability to respond with sensitivity, empathy, and love to the wide range of childhood emotions - even the more challenging ones. Babywearing can actually HELP caregivers more effectively and responsively care for babies, while getting other things done! I know many parents who brought their babies to work in a sling (myself being one of them!), or who were able to reconnect lovingly at night after work, through breastfeeding and a family bed.

     

    Attachment parenting is, at its core, a method for relating to babies and children in gentle, nurturing ways, in an effort to form a lasting, loving, joyful connection with them. It's easy to do, feels good, and is wonderful for your children - AND for you!

     

    For more information about attachment parenting - what it REALLY IS, and how you can bring it into your life with your own children, grandchildren, or other children you care for, please check out these wonderful articles (listed alphabetically, except for NPN... because I write there, too!):

     

    NaturalParentsNetwork.com: What is Attachment Parenting? 

    AskDrSears.com: What AP Is: 7 Baby B's

    Attachment Parenting International: What is Attachment Parenting All About?

    TheBabyBond.com: Bonding Matters… The Chemistry of Attachment

    DrJayGordon.com: Flower Shop (Why You Should Attachment Parent)

    GreenChildMagazine.com: How Does Attachment Parenting Foster Independence?

    GreenMomHappyMom.com: How to Balance Work & Attachment Parenting

    The Hippie Housewife: Attachment Parenting (Series)

    MommaJorje.com: WHY Attachment Parenting?

    Our Crazy Corner of the World: What AP Looks Like

    Radical Ramblings: Attachment Parenting is for Everyone - Really!

    True Confessions of a Real Mommy: 7 Principles of "Too Lazy"

    TheVerigatedLife.com: Five Truths About Attachment Parenting 

    VibrantWanderings.com: Why Practice Attachment Parenting (Series)

     

    Do you have a favorite post that describes attachment parenting in an uplifting and positive light? Please share!

     

    Posted: May 17 2012, 19:25 by kelly | Comments (9) RSS comment feed |
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