Lyric’s Birth Story

Here is the story of my second daughter’s birth.  I like to say that Haven made me a mother, which was about as earth shattering as you could get, but Lyric’s birth made me a doula and aspiring midwife.

Following a miscarriage in September of 07, my previous OB told me it was my fault because I was still breast-feeding.  I had already decided I wanted a water birth with the second and wanted to switch providers but this really sealed the deal.  I went looking for an affordable and more sympathetic (and less myth-based) approach.
Meeting the midwives at the Mountain Midwifery Birth Center I realized everything the midwifery model of care could offer.  They actually seemed like the LIKED their jobs and talking to moms about their pregnancy and whatever else was going on in their lives, unlike my OB.
My last pregnancy was good, but Lyric’s pregnancy was even better.  I felt fantastic, even right up until I went into labor.  Towards the end she was measuring a little small, so Cassie sent me for an ultrasound.  I was freaked out and the midwives were so great and supportive and listened to my fears (everything showed up fine).
I went into the office Wednesday, June 18 for my last prenatal appointment.  Tracy did my forty-week check and found me to be 2 cm and 70% effaced.  I was feeling totally overwhelmed and emotional and when I broke down and started bawling in the waiting room, Heather said, “I think you’ll have your baby really soon.”

Sure enough, that Wed I went into early labor, waking all throughout the night with contractions.  They got much more regular at 9 am, from 2-5 minutes apart for three hours.  At 12:30 we decided to head down to the Birthing Center since we live a bit far.  We dropped off our stuff and headed to a nearby park to walk around outside.  I think this turned out to be not the best idea since I couldn’t really get inside myself and settle into the Birth Center.
We returned at 4:30 where they checked me and found I was 2 cm, 70% effaced…exactly the same as yesterday!  I was so frustrated!  I didn’t mind a longer, slower, labor as long as it seemed to be doing something!  Cassie and Tracy were awesome at talking me through my frustration, Tracy saying her last birth took three days to get there!  Tiffany also helped me regain control by saying my baby might just need a little extra time to get used to the idea of being on the outside.  They almost sent me home to a bath and glass of wine, but I really didn’t want to spend an hour in the car (contractions in the car are awful!) and I wasn’t sure when to come back since contractions were pretty close together anyway.  They decided to give me two hours to see how I would progress.

I calmed myself down, refused to look at the clock, and went inside myself.  After two hours Cassie checked me and I was at 4 cm so they decided to let me stay!  I spent some time on the toilet where my water broke, a high tear that didn’t continually leak fluid.  Two of my good friends came, including my friend who was a doula and was amazing at helping me with my breathing and rubbing my back!  Contractions started getting really strong, along with bloody show and more of the mucous plug was lost.

I spent my time going through transition in the tub, which was great and made the contractions much more round.  I was always a little worried I wouldn’t have a break if I did it naturally since I had had an epidural with Haven and it really helped my long labor by giving me a rest.  Magically my body seemed to know this and contractions slowed down to 7-8 minutes after I had gone through transition.  I even started to fall asleep in the water between contractions!  My body was naturally preparing me to push.

I was checked and found to be sort of stuck at 9.5 cm with a little “lip” of cervix left.  After sixteen hours at the Birthing Center, I really wanted to be done, so Tracy said I could try and push past it if I wanted to.  I tried but it was hard, like pushing into a hammock where the baby kept bouncing back.  Cassie ended up helping break the bag of water around her head which felt AMAZING, like her head was suddenly half as big.  Then she helped hold the lip of cervix back while I pushed.
At first I couldn’t tell what was a productive push and what wasn’t and I was losing all my energy out my voice.  Tracy gave me a great pep talk to help me learn the right way, then I became much more productive.  Twenty minutes of pushing and she was out!  My daughter Haven watched as I brought her out of the water and then she and Kyle joined me in the birth tub.  As soon as she came out of the water Haven said, “It’s a baby sister!”  Even to this day she likes to tell the story.  She says “Uterus squeeeeze the baby out and the baby came out Mommy’s yoni in the water and nurse and get all dry dry.  That was hard work for Mommy, Mommy did a good job, good job Mommy!”  Haven was totally thrilled with her new baby sister and held her even before Daddy!  We got out of the bed and spent time cuddling as a family on the bed.
After a long time, Kyle and the nurses did all the weighing and checking while I took a luxurious, relaxing herbal bath.  It felt wonderful!  We stayed for a while, then packed up to go home…at 4 am!  It was nice to be in our own bed after such a long night.  The nurses and midwives needed a break too because with the full moon and Summer Solstice brought six new babies…IN 24 HOURS!
The recovery went really really well, much better than after Haven’s birth.  I think I was able to be aware of what my body was doing so much more without the epidural and not rush my body into a place it wasn’t ready to go.  As a result I had only one tiny tear that felt fine after a day or so.
Haven’s birth was good, but Lyric’s birth was phenomenal.  I never thought I could be so nurtured and supported in the process.  The midwives and nurses were all fabulous and Kyle and I both enjoyed the intimate atmosphere.  We loved having Haven there to watch the birth.  I can think of no greater responsibility than teaching our children (especially our daughters) that birth is a normal, natural part of life and nothing to be feared.  It was all I could have hoped for and more.

birth-145Lyric Hana Brynn
Lyric:  because she loves being sung to
Hana:  meaning “flower” in Korean, her placenta is buried under a flowering linden tree
Brynn:  meaning “little drop of water” for my little water birth baby

June 20, 2008
12:23 am
7 lb 3 oz
20 in

View Haven’s Birth

In the tub

In the tub

birth-010

She's born!

She's born!

birth-027birth-030birth-082birth-101

Proud Daddy

Proud Daddy

7 lb, 3 oz

7 lb, 3 oz

So happy

So happy

Our family with my good doula friend Rebekkah

Our family with my good doula friend Rebekkah

VIDEO – Baby born in the Caul

Here is an amazing video of a baby born “in the caul.”  Basically this means that the bag of waters never breaks and the baby emerges in a sac of water.  It’s amazing!

Most of the world has traditionally thought this phenomenon to be a good omen.  Some of the lore includes:

  • The baby will be destined for greatness
  • The child will never drown
  • The child will be psychic
  • The child will be able to travel and never tire
  • A sailor or ship that posses the caul will never drown or sink
  • Protection against infertility and evil forces
  • Intelligence
  • If twins are born in caul that means they are marked by an angel and their souls are shielded

Mother Blessings/Blessingways

In lieu of traditional baby showers, more and more women are planning Mother Blessings or Blessingways for the mother-to-be.   Unlike a baby shower, where the focus is on the baby, Mother Blessings celebrate the upcoming birth of woman into motherhood!  Birth is a rite of passage for many women and it’s great to show our support of her in her journey.  I also have two books, Mother Rising and Blessingways, in my library.

Here are some ideas of things you can do pamper the mother-to-be in your life.

  1. Start by naming the mothers in your lineage (children, mother, grandmothers, great grandmothers).  If you want you can link all of your wrists together with yarn or ribbon.  After everyone shares their lineage the ribbon is cut to make bracelets.  If you like, you can keep the ribbon on until the woman goes into labor to keep her in mind and support her.
  2. Cleanse the air with a sage smudge stick or salt lamp.
  3. Give the mom a relaxing foot soak or massage.
  4. Make the pregnant woman’s favorite food.
  5. Bring a “Bead and Seed.” Everyone brings a special bead and something from nature to symbolize the life growing inside her.  The beads are made into a bracelet that the mother wears until labor is over.
  6. Henna, of course, is my favorite addition to this! It’s particularly fun when the stain is still visible when the mother goes into labor.
  7. Think about hiring a belly dancer or take a belly dance class with friends.  Belly dancing was originally only for women dancing for women during labor, to show them how to use their abdominal muscles to move the baby out.
  8. Do some sort of fire/water/sand ceremony where each guest either lights a candle, pours a cup of scented water into a bowl, or layers colored sand in a glass while sharing a bit of advice or well-wishing (you can also do this with presenting your bead). You can pour the water into a special vial and keep it as a reminder of the support of your friends.
  9. If your friends have had children already, share a birth experience of your own.
  10. Instead of decorating onesies like so many baby showers do these days, have your guests decorate a square of fabric to be sewn into a blanket.
  11. You can even send the fabric out with the invitations. If you have the party early enough, you can finish the blanket or pillow case by the time the mother starts labor to remind her of the women who stand behind her.  A less time intensive option is to decorate a pillow case with positive birth phrases, encouragement, and quotes.
  12. Do a belly cast to preserve her shapeshift into motherhood.  You can purchase kits online and decorate them after they harden.  Some people put the baby’s hand prints on the belly after the baby is born or paint them with an image that is meaningful to them.  You can also have guests at the Mother Blessing decorate the belly themselves.  Another option is to hire a professional lifecaster to do the cast for you.  Unlike do-it-yourself kits where the finished product is the strips of plaster and gauze, lifecasting creates an exact replica of yourself by creating a cast and pouring medium into it (see right).  It’s definitely the more beautiful option, but also more expensive (around $150-300).  Some lifecasters in Denver are Chris Guarino, or to find other artists you can visit the Association of Lifecasters.
  13. Make a “Help” list where the guests can sign up to do chores or bring meals after the baby is born.
  14. Make a “Belly Bowl.” Some casting studios in your area may have the option to make a cast from the mom’s belly and turn it into either a bronze or ceramic bowl.  With the ceramic bowls you can decorate them yourself before firing.  With the bronze bowls you can choose different patinas (bronze finishes) and it “rings” when struck to the individual tone of mom and baby.

Fabulous Sibling Prep Book!

I just got the best sibling prep book for any sibling and/or parent who is interested in attending a birth.  My Brother Jimi Jazz follows the story of Trinity as she prepares for the birth of her new baby brother.   It’s frank and honest, but still very beautiful.  It has the laboring mom in all these great, active positions like hands and knees and squatting.  It talks about making birth noises, the crowning, umbilical cord, how the placenta looks like a tree, everything!  The book has great illustrations that are both realistic and beautiful.  I think this book is essential to anyone planing to have a child attend a birth!  Of course, it is a part of my lending library.  You can view the author/illustrator/mama/doula’s website here.  You can purchase it from Attachments Catalog and it’s a little cheaper.  She also has a new book on breastfeeding that I’m interested in buying.

New book/dvd in my library!

I’m so excited, I just ordered a new book/dvd set entitled “I Watched My Brother Being Born.” I think it’ll be great to add to my list of kids books and a resource for my Sibling Doula niche.

Here is a synopsis for the book:

This book by mother and daughter team Anne and Katarina makes a great compliment to the DVD by the same title. Katarina and her five year old brother Magnus watch their baby brother being born and tell about it in this charming and fact-filled book. The book takes on the voice of Katarina but also has an introduction for parents.

“My goal with this book is to teach our children that giving birth is a natural, safe and fulfilling process. Unless the birthing mother has an illness that needs special medical attention, it need not be treated like a disease. By including our children at birth they can see that it is a normal and healthy physical event…”

Illustrative photos from Anne’s third childs actual birth at home in a birthing tub make this book a rare find.

Here is a synopsis for the dvd:

I’m really excited about this great DVD that shows home water birth with children present. This is a great tool you can use to get your child(ren) ready to experience the birth of a sibling. This 21 minute movie is about two siblings ages five and seven who are present for their brother’s home water birth. Partially told in the voice of seven year old Katarina, this is an excellent resource for expectant parents and birth professionals who are wanting to prepare children for the arrival of a new baby. A paperback book version seen above is also available which is a great accompaniment to watching the video. 21 minutes long.

Jan 23 – Belly’s Night Out!

Come join me at Belly Bliss for a Belly’s Night Out Party!

belly-night-out

I will be there decorating the lovely Mama’s-to-be with henna and Rachel Kemble will be there taking professional photography.  There will also be someone giving massages while you wait to be hennaed!

Register here with Belly Bliss – Just click on the “Workshops” tab in the upper right corner

Hope to see you there!

6-10 pm
Belly Bliss
300 Josephine St. Suite #10
Denver, CO
303.399.1191

Getting Breastfeeding Off to a Great Start

Here are some tips for gaining the advantage in successful breastfeeding:

  • Get baby to breast immediately! – The time right after your baby is born is precious.  Babies are often alert right after birth (especially if the birth was unmedicated) and will usually latch on.  However after an hour or so baby falls into a deep sleep (being born is hard work!) and may not wake to breastfeed again for a while.  Also it’s important that baby recognize and bond with mom as well as imprint on the breast at the start.
  • Room in with Baby – Keeping the baby with you (rooming in) and not in the nursery allows you to feed entirely on demand and helps you and your baby get to know each other.  Babies who room in lose much less birth weight than babies in the nursery.
  • Only Mama – Make sure your baby gets nothing but you to eat!  Supplementing with formula can lead to a decrease in milk supply.  If a baby gets a pacifier or bottle this can lead to nipple confusion.  A baby actually has to work to get milk out of a breast by actively sucking.  With a bottle, all baby has to do is stop the flow with his/her tongue.  This can spoil and confuse babies and they might refuse the breast.
  • Natural Childbirth – Studies have shown that some babies who received drugs during labor (via IV, mouth, or epidural) can be sleepy or have trouble latching on.  This can be because the drugs make their lips numb and they have more difficulty with their rooting reflex.  If you can, try and get the hands-on support you need during labor so you don’t have to take medication unless it’s necessary.
  • Get Support – Attend a La Leche League Series Meeting for mother-to-mother support, join a breastfeeding moms group, or consult a lactation expert.  I even recommend that women planning to breastfeed attend a La Leche League Series (4 meetings in a row) while they are pregnant.  Each meeting has a different topic and you can get a great base of knowledge before the baby is even born!  Visit this site to find a meeting near you.

Tips on Writing a Birth Plan

Here are some things to consider when writing a birth plan:

Some people like birth plans, others feel it’s too restrictive.  If you’ve thought about what you want and talked with your provider and feel comfortable that everyone’s on the same page and you just want to go with the flow, please do!  If it feels better for you to have things organized on paper rather than in your brain, here are some tips to help you along!

  • Know your options – They say if you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.  Research different elements of labor, birth, and postpartum.  A great place to start is to read The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer and Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper
  • Keep it brief – No hospital staff is willing to read a 20-page manifesto!  Keep it simple and use bullets or numbers.
  • Prioritize – There are so many things you might want in your birth but choose the few that really mean a lot to you, ie, keeping the baby with you skin-to-skin after birth.  Don’t put things in your birth plan that you know aren’t allowed, for example if the hospital doesn’t allow waterbirth, it won’t mean much that it’s in your plan.
  • Use positive language – No one wants to deal with a belligerent person!  Instead of “We don’t want the baby taken away” say “We prefer the baby to be examined on mom’s chest and to stay skin-to-skin as long as possible”
  • Separate wishes into categories – By organizing the list into “Labor”, “Birth”, “Postpartum”, and “Newborn Care” staff can easily find what your wishes are.
  • Talk with your Partner – It’s important you’re on the same page
  • Show the plan to everyone involved – Make sure your midwife/OB/doula know what your wishes are and can respect them.  If they can’t respect a vital point, it may be time to find a new care provider.  Remember, it’s never too late to make a change that could mean a world of difference to your birth!
  • Find out about waivers – See if you need to sign waivers to decline something in hospital/birth center policy.  For example, you may need to sign a waiver if you don’t want eye drops for the baby because you don’t, say, have a venereal disease.
  • Have care providers sign the plan – Keep the plan in your chart and carry one with you in your bag if it makes you feel more at ease.
  • BE FLEXIBLE! – Everyone has an idea of their ideal birth but it’s important to be flexible if something unexpected happens.  The main point is that you feel respected and consulted at every twist and turn of labor and birth.

Feb 12 – Meet The Doulas (Wash Park)

house-of-doula

Thursday, Feb 12
6:30 pm

Green Monkey Baby
1511 S. Pearl St.

RSVP

House of Doula is a great company that allows you to register for doula services just like you would register for a stroller or carseat.  This mixer is a place where you can mingle with the House of Doula doulas (myself included!) and find one you’d like to interview one-on-one at a later time.

Light refreshments will be served, bring your husband and/or children!

Call Amanda Glenn with any questions, 720.219.8482

Choosing a Birth Attendant

Most people see pregnancy as a time to prepare for the baby.  I see early pregnancy as a time to figure out what you want before you even go to your first appointment.  A lot of women don’t even think about the actual birth until a few months or weeks before the baby is born!  It can be difficult to make a change that late in the game.  You should choose the provider who has the same philosophy as you instead of hoping to change them by the end of the pregnancy.

Tips for choosing a birth attendant

  • Think about your core birthing philosophy.  Do you feel that birth is a natural physiological process?  If so, a midwife is your best bet.  Do you have physical issues that dictate that there could be a potential problem?  Do you see birth as dangerous with lots of opportunities for things to go wrong?  Then an OB might be your preferred provider.
  • Visit The Birth Survey, a consumer reporting site dedicated to birth.  Go to rate your OB, midwife, and place of birth.  As of now the site is just up and running and they should have formulated the results by Fall of 08
  • Get recomendations from people who share your birthing point of view, visit online forums (like mothering.com) and ask questions.
  • Interview your potential care provider.  Remember, they are working for you, not the other way around.  Related posts:  Interviewing your OB, Interviewing your Midwife, and Interviewing your Place of Birth
  • Create a birth plan well before your second or third trimester.  Going to your provider interview with a birth plan or at least an idea of what you want can help you ask the right questions.  Just make sure to not be negative or badger the doctor!
  • How much one-on-one, hands-on support do you want during pregnancy? Midwives generally treat the whole woman:  mentally, physically, socially, psychologically, spiritually.  Prenatal appointments generally last about an hour and they are usually there for the majority of labor and birth.  OBs on the other hand are primarily surgical specialists who have a prenatal appointment time of about five minutes and generally just come in at the end to catch the baby.
  • How much involvement do you want in your pregnancy and birth? Many times in midwifery practices the mom gets to do her own urine dip and weigh herself at her appointments.  The midwife tries to explain things to her and tries to get her to interact during her visits.  An OB visit is more in-and-out with the nurses doing everything behind the scenes.
  • Where do you want to give birth? Some women just go to an OB because they think they’re supposed to and then realize late in pregnancy that they want a home birth!  Where you give birth automatically dictates who will be there.  For example in Colorado at this time, OBs work in the hospital, only Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) can work at a birth center, and Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) and CNMs can do home births.  Most CNMs (90-95%) work with doctors in the hospital.
  • Do you want to have a waterbirth? Some hospitals allow it, some do not.  If you have to give birth in a hospital and want to fight a policy that does not allow waterbirth, having a provider who supports it can go a long way.  Yes, it is possible to change hospital policy!  In Gentle Birth Choices Barbara Harper talks about how to do this.
  • Choose someone you’re comfortable with. If you’re not comfortable with your provider there is no way you can let your body open up and relax enough to have a baby.
  • If a provider or place (like home or birthing center) is out of your insurance network, talk to your insurance provider.  Also, often times a home birth or birthing center is cheaper even though you have to pay in full.  For example, in Colorado a typical, no-intervention birth in a hospital usually costs around $12,000-13,000.  In an insurance plan where you pay 10% of hospital and doctor’s costs you’re looking at a few thousand dollars.  A home birth or birth center birth usually costs around that if you’re paying in full.
  • Do you feel more comfortable with a male or female doctor?  Remember that just because a doctor is female doesn’t mean she believes in the same birthing philosophy as you do.