Monday, July 16, 2012

An All-Inclusive Birthplan for Expectant Mothers

In a divergence from my heretofore usual material, here is a birth plan outline that I wrote to share with clients (I offer doula and childbirth education services).  Feel free to alter it however suits you and share with whoever wants to use it.

Birth Plan Outline

Overview:  The basic concept behind this birth plan is (EXAMPLE: to allow for as natural a birth as possible etc)

During labor: 
How would you like to be hydrated (through IV or otherwise)?
How often do you want vaginal exams performed (all exams are optional, you may refuse to be examined at any time)?
What are your wishes for pain management?
What are your wishes for mobility?
How do you want your baby monitored (continuously with the belly straps, intermittently with the belly straps, intermittently with a handheld doppler)?

During birth:
Do you want to be directed to a birthing position or choose one for your own comfort?
Do you want to push with your body's urges or with direction from your care provider or nurse?

After birth:
Do you want your placenta delivered by cord traction (pulling on the cord)?  Do you want Pitocin used in its delivery?
What do you wish for pain control after delivery?
When do you want the umbilical cord clamped and cut?
Where do you want your baby to go immediately after birth (onto your belly, into the warmer etc).
Do you want your baby to sleep in your room with you?
Do you want your baby to be given bottles or pacifiers?.
Do you want a circumcision performed?

The Unexpected
Should a C-section become necessary, how do you want it handled?  Who do you want in the room with you?  How soon do you want breastfeeding to be established?  Where do you want your baby to go?  If you wear glasses, do you wish to have them with you?
Should your baby be born premature or sick, how do you want it handled?  When do you want to see your baby?  When will you want to initiate breastfeeding?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ghost Story in July

This might make a better October post, but it's a strange story I feel like sharing today. 

I'll start by saying I'm a skeptic.  I love Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures for their entertainment value, but I rarely see anything on there that I can't explain logically, and I recognize that the things I *do* see that I can't explain logically are probably still explainable by someone of greater mental capacities.  The guys on Mythbusters could probably do it.  Up until the incident I'm about to share with you, I have never experienced any paranormal stuff that wasn't caused by my trickster little brother trying to make me pee myself, nor have I experienced anything after.

But I have a story that I cannot for the life of me figure out logically.

This happened in the winter of 2008, while I was pregnant with my daughter.  I was house/babysitting for a friend/mentor.  She lived in a mid-sized old Victorian brick house with gorgeous original hardwood floors that creaked and groaned in real charm that nothing but time can produce.  I stayed in the house with my husband and we looked out for her 13 year old grandson, made sure he got to school and did his homework, and kept the plants watered and chickens fed while she was away in Mexico.  One day Max decided he wanted to sleep in his own bed.  The bed we were given was to comfort what Saw IV is to the feel good movie of the summer.  It was a remarkably thin pallet on a plywood board on the bottom of a bunk bed.  I was pregnant and already uncomfortable, but I didn't blame him (to his face).  I had a responsibility, so I stayed.

That night I turned in early.  I heard the kid go to bed shortly after I did.  Maybe 10 minutes later I heard what sounded like a hard rubber ball roll across the hardwood floor.  I had been sleeping there for a week at this point and I had never heard anything like it.  I figured that a ball had rolled out of the kid's room and assuaged my "OMG THIS HOUSE IS HAUNTED RUN" instinct with that.  But then a few minutes later without any footsteps sounding on those loud hardwood floors, whatever it was rolled *back* down the hallway.  If a ball could roll out of the room and down the hall, how could it also roll back?  That would mean it was rolling uphill, one way or another, and what accounts for the pause of MINUTES between rolling down the hall and rolling back up?

The next morning on the way to school the kid started talking about how the house was haunted by my friend's uncle who had died and followed her.  He said that weird stuff was always happening.  Weird smells, weird sounds, and if they yelled at him to stop, the noises/happenings stopped.  I hadn't asked about the sounds I'd heard.  I asked the kid if he had any large rubber balls, or anything that could have rolled down the hall.  His response was that teenager stare... you know, the one that simultaneously says "You're stupid" and "I'm not a baby any more!" and "Bite me, old person" (even though I was only 7 years his senior) in the most annoying way possible.  I peeked in his room without going in and didn't see a ball.  Not to mention that his room was right at the top of the stairs.  The ball would have had to go around them to roll down the hall.

Nothing else happened while I was there.  I know it's not as exciting as seeing apparitions or blood dripping down a wall or creepy little girls singing off-key nursery rhymes, but this really happened, and I really don't have any way to explain it.  What rolled down the hall?  How did it roll back?  Where was the object in the morning? 

Feel free to tell me what you think it was!

Friday, July 6, 2012

On Mommy/Daddy Guilt

If you're a parent, and care a lick about how your kid turns out, chances are you are aware of the myriad schools of thought on raising children properly.  It goes way beyond spanking versus not spanking.

My firstborn as a 3 month old in a rare moment of not completely losing it

After I had my first child, I was introduced to the exciting world of mommy guilt.  This is a phenomenon born of the fact that no matter what you do for your child, it will never, ever, ever be enough.  They will always deserve better than your best because they are your child.  There is no task in the world more important than creating the next generation of people.  My guilt was perhaps enhanced because of the near-constant crying and 45 minute stretches between nursing sessions around the clock, demonstrating just how very inept I was at this whole motherhood thing, but I think every mother feels it.  And moms blame themselves for not being perfect.  You spent all day playing with your kid, teaching him his ABCs, attending to his every need, wish and whim... but you didn't make an all-organic, raw, Paleo dinner because you were So. Effing. Exhausted.  Shit.

I don't know about you guys, but I feel like I'm constantly being pulled in two directions (at least), as well.  All the moms on my Facebook page (excellent mothers, all) post stuff about completely doing away with all forms of punishment, or how not having a completely natural birth can cause learning impairments later in life or how feeding kids conventionally grown foods can cause them to grow a second head that will try to take over the world.  On the other hand, I have friends and family (and, to one extent or another, my own maternal instincts, since the following is how I myself was raised) telling me that sparing the rod spoils the child, that being too soft on them may inhibit the process of learning to deal with consequences.  My natural instinct is to get defensive.  Why?  Because my style of parenting falls squarely between the two branches I just mentioned and because I feel guilty.  Now don't get me wrong.  When I judge myself as a mother objectively, I think I'm doing pretty darn well.  The kids are alive, clean, fed, living in a house that isn't filthy, and they're usually pretty happy and well behaved.  But when I judge myself by their standards I'm crap, either way.

Recently I was watching my kids play and I realized that all this back and forth, all this "advice" offered with nothing but the best intentions (and much of it not even aimed specifically at me but just posted generally to everyone) had convinced me by turns that either I was doing something horribly wrong, or my kids weren't normal, terribly behaved or otherwise harder to handle than others, or perhaps both.  Probably both.

An example of either a mommy fail or a 3 year old win

And then I had an epiphany.  There are all kinds of mothers all over the world.  All kinds of parenting philosophies.  I've seen attachment parents tout French parenting practices (which are decidedly parent-centered, which is kind of the opposite of attachment parenting), parents who spank speak out aggressivly in favor of child-led weaning and read about mothers in the African bush let toddlers wander within inches of open flames.  And for the most part, humans are doing alright.  Most people grow up to function as members of their respective societies.  Good people come from bad families, bad people come from good families.  There are reams and reams of essays, papers, studies and evidence supporting every claim made about every parenting style.  Humans are complex beings, and I don't think we'll ever finish learning what makes us tick.  And while we're figuring that out, just love your kids.  Let them know that you love them.  Don't abuse them.  Do your best to meet their needs, teach them what they need to know, and let the guilt die a horrible death.  Because there is no way to guarantee a perfect product when it comes to raising kids. 

One more parenting lesson, which ties in to the general theme here: kids are the original masters of photobomb, learn to love those jacked up snapshots.

And that, if you listen to me (as everyone should) is the end of the Mommy Wars.  Because without guilt there isn't anything to defend vehemently, to judge others for or to get angry about.