Monday, August 27, 2012

She Blew Dandelion Wishes

This is my favorite kind of writing to do...
a Birth Story.

I got a text early Friday morning:
"Just a heads up: it's looking like today's the day."
-from Composed Mama A.

I love getting those kinds of texts and phone calls
when a momma is ready to have a baby.

I went ahead and got ready for the day
and got the yahoos off to school,
ran over and checked on
the other Post-partum Momma
I've been working with the past couple of weeks.

Composed Mama A. and I were in constant contact
and she knew to call me when her body said
the time was nigh to go to the hospital.
Three hours later, another text:
"I'm terrible at timing ctx and I'm getting really erratic times,
but the ones I am feeling are long and getting intense.
Do you think we should head to the hospital?"

I responded with a simple, "Yes."
And then quickly finished up what I was doing--
which was making eggs for two little ones
at the other Momma's house,
and headed over to meet Mama A. and Papa M.
I was their doula just over a year ago,
and shared their first birth story over here.
So, I was and still am,
to be asked to attend another birth.

Mama A. was much the same disposition as the first birth--
composed, focused, relaxed.
She didn't move around hardly at all--
content to sit on the bed,
legs to the side,
and quietly breathing
in through her nose
and out through her mouth,
eyes closed,
and a heavenly peaceful look on her face.
It was hard to tell she was in active labor.

IN fact, she was already dilated to 6cm upon arrival at the hospital,
she'd gone through early labor
in the comfort of her own home.

In between contractions,
we would engage in small talk,
but follow her cues
as another wave would present itself
and she calmly let it go through her;
surprising her attending nurse with
her quiet responses and relaxed demeanor,
which perfectly matched the calm August morning.

Mama A. drank some ice water,
took a small bite of a rice cake,
and rested her head back on a pillow
between contractions.
Papa M. ever near her side,
whispered treasured words
for her ears only,
and lightly glided his fingers over her limbs,
to relax and comfort her.
There was never a wasted word between them.
They were thoughtful and respectful of one another
and in every way showed a mutual gratitude
towards the other.

Her labor progressed very quickly,
and we only knew of the increased intensity
when Mama A declared,
after quietly breathing away another wave,
"That was really intense."

I looked at my watch and timed the next few contractions:
they were lasting nearly or just over-- two minutes
and allowing only a 10 second rest between.
Her body was working to capacity.
Just a little over 10 minutes later,
she said what we all love to hear:
"I feel the pressure to push."

I went out and got our attending nurse, Farrell,
to come and check Mama A.'s progress.
At first check,
Farrell determined Mama A's cervix was at an 8--
and two contractions later,
she was checked again
and was complete and ready for delivery!

( I love this part!)

The Doc was just outside the door,
so he just walked right in,
sat down and within just a few minutes,
he was prepping for the delivery.

By this time,
Mama A began to push,
and we were her cheerleaders!
I didn't get the exact count,
but I would say it only took
five good pushes
and Baby girl C. came out
a chubby little thing
at nine pounds, 13 ounces!
Almost ten pounds!
I got out the camera and snapped a few pics,
and then went to the "broiler pan"
while the peds nurses and docs checked her out
and Papa stayed next to Mama
for the rest of the delivery.

All of this happened in less than 3 hours.

It went by so fast,
that before we knew it,
while Papa went with the Baby to the nursery,
and I sat with Mama A alone in her room,
while she drank some juice,
and recovered awhile.
I asked her about how she was able
to stay so composed--
What did you think about while you were in labor;
while you were breathing?
I asked.

Mama A smiled.
" I imagined blowing
dandelion seeds and wishes for her."


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Getting Ready for Childbirth

The last weeks of pregnancy
should have a special title
all it's own...
a name that evokes images
of Nobility
the Queen of Everything
is about right.

As many women I know in
blogland are preparing for
I thought I might
offer some words of wisdom
and encouragement.

First, you are Beautiful
Whatever the scales say is irrelevant.
If you've gained weight then that means
you are a Good Mother already to that
little one inside;
the glow of pregnancy is not just stuff
of novels and myths.
It's real...the glow of creation shows thru your eyes.

As you get closer to birth
make sure you stay hydrated.
Many women start to limit
their fluid intake because they feel
the pressure on their bladder.
BUT a hydrated uterus is an efficient one
and your labor will be easier.
SO drink up and stay close to a bathroom
in the last weeks.

Make sure you're eating 6 small meals a day.
Your diet affects the baby.
You'll need energy for birth
and so will the baby.
So eat well and eat often.

Rest. Rest. Rest.
Take catnaps if you have little ones
at home.
Plop them down for naps with you
or plop them in front of the TV and you
rest on the sofa.
If someone offers to take the kids for an hour
or an afternoon,
Accept that offer!
If someone offers to bring dinner in,
don't say, "No, that's okay."
Say,"Yes, Thank you!"

When you have Braxton-Hicks ctx
practice your relaxation breathing techniques!
Welcome each wave
and ride it completely thru...
the more ctx you have before actual labor
the better primed your cervix will become.

Sleep on your left side.
Don't lean back into the lazy boy,
but sit in a supportive chair where
you can lean forward with your
beautiful belly hanging in front of you--
Because gravity is your friend
and it'll pull the baby to the centerline
helping hm/her to get in the optimal
birth position.

Make sure your hospital bag is ready to go
and includes some honeystix
you'll like those for a burst of energy
in labor!
Make sure Dad's bag has some treats in it too--
power bars yes
power drinks with caffeine no...
many a dad has come crashing down
in labor...
so be wise.

Finally, review your Birth Plan
to make sure you've written everything
down that you would like in optimal conditions.
And remember to be flexible
if you don't get it all in case of a medical reason.
Trust Birth.
Be confidant in your Strength
in your Courage
in your Womanhood.

You're the Queen of Everything.

That's Just What We Do RIght? A Birth Story

I have tons of pictures from our camping trip--
it was,
as my yahoos like to say,

And as I was uploading said pics on Saturday morning,
there was a disturbance in the Force,
such that, I didn't finish.
I'd just gotten out of the shower,
hair still wet,
and honestly, I was poking around
not gettin' a darn thing done.

Camping wears me out a bit,
so I get pokey afterwards.
We were set to go to Elitches in Denver
for the day,
and honestly, I was hoping we could postpone it
til next weekend.
Instead of getting ready to go,
I was on my bahooey at the pc
putting together a blog for a
Celebration of the 15th Anniversary of
 The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
I'd just finished it,
when the phone rang--
it was my cohort-in-crime, Nan
wanting to know if I'd be interested in
being a doula at a hospital birth
for a mutual friend (M.) of ours'
daughter-in-love (Mama Joy*)...
whose due date was August 24th.
Heck yeah! I'm in!
Right then, she got another call--
"Hold on a sec, I've been waiting for this call." she says.
She's gone for a couple of minutes,
returns and says,
"That was M.--
it seems Mama Joy's water has broken.
Can you go over right now?"

I grabbed my shoes,
ran a comb thru my still-damp hair,
and thought to bring my scrubs and doula stuff,
just. in. case.

I picked up Nan on the way,
cuz I didn't know Mama Joy's address and Nan didn't either
but knew how to get there.
When we arrive,
Mama Joy is fretful--
red nose, watery eyes, trembly lips...
I gave this new acquaintance a good hug
and assured her that things will be okay.

After just a few questions,
it sounded certain that her membranes had spontaneously ruptured--
she'd made a call to her hospital and they told her to come in
of course.
Mama Joy hadn't packed her hospital bags yet...
thinking she still had two weeks,
so we quickly came up with a necessity list of things to grab,
and also made a call to see if she could get a
priesthood blessing before leaving--
and within minutes two dear friends were over
to do just that.
Mama Joy was calm afterwards,
as was her young husband, Papa J.

I met them at the hospital
and after a bit of time in the triage,
she was admitted and given a room.
She wasn't having any good quality contractions,
the doctor had already prescribed pitocin
within the hour
if labor didn't progress.
So we took a stroll down the halls
and within 35 minutes,
her ctx were three minutes apart!

Mama Joy's goal was an un-medicated birth...
and let me say,
she was awesome!
She'd not taken a single birthing class,
but listened to every direction and counsel I gave her
and acted in every way
with purpose and focus.
Her sweetheart was exactly the same--
he learned to breathe with her,
massage her,
comfort her with encouraging words
after some coaching from me,
I found him to be a wonderful helper for
Mama Joy.
For 20 minutes of every hour,
she had to be on the fetal monitor...
but as soon as she could get off that,
she was moving--
walking the halls
in the shower
in the jacuzzi
standing at a high counter, leaning over it,
while Papa J did hip compressions,
swaying her side to side
helping that little baby move down.
When she had to be in bed,
I used aromatherapy lotion,
tranquil mint
to rub her feet which she loved
and was able to relax so much
that it looked like she was sleeping
between contractions!
We kept her hydrated so well
that she didn't have to have an IV...
tho she did have a hep-lock just in case.

When she was showing signs of transition,
(trembling, vomiting, change in emotion)--
the nurse checked and she was 9 cm dilated!!!
Within minutes she was complete!
She got a nice
"rest and be thankful" phase--
where her body stopped contracting for a few minutes.
At that time,
I coached her on what to do next
to bring the baby down
and how to push for the delivery.

She did it exactly as I said,
and twenty minutes later,
she delivered a perfect seven pound
baby boy!

The nurse staff was awesome,
and we all worked together so well.
I loved it
and they did too.
Mama Joy and Papa J. declared,
"we couldn't have done it without you!"--
but they could've and
they would've done it just fine,
ya know?

After family arrived
a few hours later,
hugs went all around
and it was time to go.
As the family was expressing gratitude
for my time and service,
I smiled and said,
"Isn't that what we do?"

I went home a happy doula.

I love what I do.
And to have the opportunity to be a part of a sacred event,
a birth,
is as much a blessing for me
as it was for them.

What lingers for me, even today is this:
I didn't wake up yesterday morning
planning to be at a total strangers'
that was a total gift
to me.
ya know?
We all have talents and abilities
to bless other people's lives--
I have been on the receiving end many times,
and to be able to pay it forward
to step up with just a moment's notice
is one way I can express my talents in purity
and truly feel those warm fuzzies way deep inside.

And get this!!
This morning, my Nana called--
she's in California visiting.
She doesn't have her own car,
but she wanted to go to church.
So she called a meetinghouse,
and whomever answered the phone

picked her up
took her to church
and another family took her back to the hotel
and offered their services to her while she's in California--
a meal,
a place to stay,
a ride to the airport next week...
whatever she needed...
because as they said to her,
"That's just what we do."

Yes it is.

*Mama Joy is not her real name. But she was a Joy to me!)

A Remarkable Birth

What a night.
And a day.

On my way to the hospital,
I looked west to see the last rays of the sun
hitting the backside of Pikes Peak--
it is always so beautiful.
No matter how many times
I look,
it is always different
always remarkable.

That beautifully describes the miracle of birth...
always different
always remarkable.

The young couple that invited me to be their doula
is a couple we've known for quite some time.
Papa M. is a young man that won our hearts
as a dear friend to our family
about eight years ago or more.
He remembers when The Caboose was still
in diapers.
When he was ready to pop the question to his lovely girlfriend-at-the-time, Momma A.
he was kind enough to let us know
and then brought her over to meet all of us,
and that's when we all came to know and love her as well.

My children go out into the world and bring home some remarkable people
whom we are grateful to know and love having in our lives.

So I was thinking about this as I drove to the hospital,
and listening to a lovely instrumental hymns cd--
of course, I got all choked up too.
I do that.
But even moreso when I am on my way
to participate in a miracle.

Papa M. and Momma A.'s birth plan was taking a detour
as her medical diagnosis changed and dictated
a planned induction.
Dr. B prescribed cytotec to get labor going--
in increments of 3-4 hours of one-fourth dose
at a time.
This was going to be a long night, I knew that.
After the first dose was administered,
and we saw that Momma A.'s body was handling it very calmly,
I decided to go home for a few hours
so we could all get some rest,
and have Papa M. call me after the next two doses were given.
Also, the hospital waiting room in the L&D area
was packed full of other patient's relatives--
moms, dads, kids, granmas and granpas, aunts and uncles,
friends, grocers, classmates, fb friends of friends--
and there was nowhere for me to rest there.
Can I just say,
I don't understand this practice?
I could write a whole other blog about that topic alone.
Bottom line,
until Mom has delivered baby,
and both are in excellent medical condition,
noone is going to be let in the labor and delivery room--
and if they are,
it's going to be less than a minute.
So wait at home until you get the invitation to
"come and see", okay?
because there was nowhere for me to sit and rest,
I went home.

Four hours later,
I was back and the waiting room was empty.
Momma A. was awake and ready to walk.
So we cruised the halls,
sat on the birth ball,
Momma A. was making progress,
but here's what's so remarkable about this--
she didn't feel like she was in labor.
She felt no pain whatsoever.
She was the picture of calm.
She wasn't meditating,
or medi-cated,
she wasn't doing breathing or visualization exercises--
Her pain receptors just didn't react to the contractions of her uterus.

Even the nurses were amazed.
According to the monitoring screen,
Momma A.'s contracting uterus was working very hard,
her tummy was as hard as a basketball,
and yet she only felt a little tightening.
No kidding!

I told her she was the envy of every mother
I've ever known
and noone would ever want to how effortless her labor was!
Truly, up until she was nearly 6-7 cms,
she felt very little discomfort.

At that point,
she did begin to feel her body working,'
and thus began a turn in her remarkable labor--
her labor quickly became the labor we all know.
It had been over a dozen hours since she'd been admitted
and she. was. tired.
And when you're a tired, laboring momma-to-be,
every thing is harder.
Her sweet Papa M. was attentive in every way--
stroking her back,
massaging her shoulders,
whsipering good and kind things in her ears...
he couldn't have been any better.
Whatever she needed or wanted,
he freely gave.
Just as I knew he would.
Yes, he is just that good.

We also had two fabulous attending nurses, Renee and Katie,
whom we all appreciated and valued their knowledge and skills
as they offered very generously.

Each of us were there to support Momma A.
in every second of every minute
as much as we could.
Finally, it was time to push!
Momma A. was very tired--
she wondered outloud if she could finish--
I assured her that she would and did have the energy to go the distance,
she just had to push past the negative thoughts!
After an hour and half of many many good pushes,
a beautiful seven-pound beauty was born!
Tiny delicate fingers,
sweet ruby lips,
dark wisps of hair,
and a cry that makes you smile your biggest smile
and cute baby toes that make you giggle!

It was a beautiful, classic birth moment--
laughter, cheers and many smiley-tears!

As Papa M. took his place at the "broiler pan" with baby G.--
Momma A. looked up at me and said,
"I can't believe I did it."

Nearly an hour later,
the placenta had still not presented,
and after a few dramatic attempts to push it out
were made,
Dr. B took Momma A. into the OR,
where she was put under and the placenta was manually removed.
This was noone's fault,
it was simply a human body thing,
and we are so grateful for the quick response of the medical team.

Within an hour,
Momma A. was back in the same room with us
while Papa M. was in the nursery bathing Baby G.
Prayers and hugs were offered and received
and before I knew it,
their families were ooh-ing and awe-ing at the nursery window,
and it was time for me to leave my post.

I cast my eyes to the West and over to my snow-spotted Pikes Peak...
life is so so very remarkable.
Women are so much stronger than we think we are...
birth shows us that--
no matter how it goes--
we learn how very remarkable WE are.

Waves of Childbirth: The Afterglow of a VBAC

The longer I live,
the more I realize
there really aren't such things called
not when it comes to relationships.

I've been "on call" the past couple of weeks--
keeping my cell phone on my person
waiting for the one call that would beg my
immediate attention--
that sweet golden-locked Mama C. was in labor.

Her due date came and went,
still no baby.
And while I knew that was stressful to her,
as we all know--
nine months is a long marathon
and when nature  moves the goal line,
we mommas don't take it lightly--
for whatever reason,
I just felt like she was going to have the baby
on Wednesday of the next week.

I had lunch with Mama C. and her Arizona-tanned mother, L.
Wednesday--two days before she was due--
I didn't want to be presumptious and tell Mama C that
I got the feeling her due date would come and go
without a birth,
'cuz that would just be mean,
so I kept that feeling to myself.
Hoping I was wrong.
Ready to go,
at any moment.

A planned induction was scheduled.
This new plan was not a total celebration though--
it meant the Birth Plan would be altered:
no laboring in the comforts of home,
no moving freely at the hospital even.
The new plan had strings attached
to protect both baby and Mama C.,
and you know this:
Good Mothers Adapt.
Yes, they do.

So Wednesday morning,
I left the house headed towards the hospital
and there was a blanket of clouds over Colorado Springs--
it was 58o degrees and overcast.
There was a stillness that set the tone for the day--
it would be a mild, calm day.
The radio was tuned to my favorite classical station
as I focused on what I was about to do:
witness the miracle and strength of

Entering the room,
there sat Mama C.--
eyes closed, head back on the upright bed,
breathing rhythmically--
Papa D. smiled casually as I came around--
"she started having them as soon as they broke her water." he explains.

I nodded and put my doula bag quietly
on the floor next to the sofa.
I stood still and waited.

The contraction wave gone,
Mama C.'s eyes opened and she smiled.
She spoke softly and quickly to catch me up,
before another wave came to shore
in the next two minutes.
Her eyes closed,
head back on the pillows,
mouth purposefully blowing those waves away...

Granma L. arrived shortly after I did,
and her excitement bubbled over into the room--
she admitted her love of the monitors:
watching the waves rollout across the screen
helped her in her own labor,
and as Mama C.'s labor progressed over the day,
Granma L. would offer
"it's going down..."
"you had a nice break with that one"
"that was a good one!"
"that one was very productive!"

Sucha great cheerleader.

Papa D. was composed.
He was there to do whatever was asked,
no questions, no delay,
and very much needed.

Because this was a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean),
once it was established that Mama C. was in "active labor",
our attending nurse informed that Mama C.
would be bound to the monitors
until delivery.
So, while she was allowed,
Mama C. and Papa D.
walked the halls of the L&D floor.

Before we knew it tho,
her body kicked into gear and
we had to work around the monitor cords
to try a variety of positions to ease the waves
and keep Mama C. comfortable.

On the ball,
at the edge of the bed...
she kept blowing away those waves...
shoulders relaxed? check.
jaw relaxed? check.
deep cleansing breaths--
one for Mama
one for Baby
check. check.

When the waves became more intense,
I got out my favorite scented lotion--
Bath and Body Work's Eucalyptus and Spearmint
and asked if I could rub her feet
thru the waves--
and that's where I stayed thru much of her active labor,
as she welcomed the distract and comforting massage.

Every two minutes we rode the waves together--
Mama, Papa, Granma and me...
some waves barely came to the shoreline,
while others washed over us completely--
leaving us little time to catch our breath
yet knowing
each wave brought us closer to the goal line.

In the midst of transition,
Mama C. wondered outloud if she could do this--
if she could continue to meet the intensity of the waves,
one after another--
and I whispered into her ear,
for now I was at her side,
breathing each breath with her,
"I want you to say,:
'I can do this.' 
Say it with me.
Say it outloud.
'I can do this.'"

"I can do this." she repeated.
"I can do this."
and again...
"I can do this."

There's power in words.
We all know this.
Hearing our own voices encourages us
and distracts us...
Make sure the words you say to yourself are
empowering and you will feel the difference

In one hour, Mama C went from 6-8 cms...
we're in the home stretch,
the goal line is within arm's reach...
just a few more waves and her dilation would be complete-
she got to 9cms when it was discovered
that she had a little cervical lip that needed to move aside
before she could be complete...
that meant not pushing,
even though her body was demanding it,
for fear of bruising and swelling her own cervix,
which in turn,
would delay the delivery.

Let me tell you,
as a woman who has had that same exact experience--
to not be able to push when your body is
yelling at you to
is beyond hard.
It's frustrating and painful.
But not impossible.
So Mama C and I locked eyes
and she held onto me,
and I onto her,
and we breathed thru each wave with more determination
than ever before...
and finally,
the new on-call doctor came in
asked for a quick assessment,
and I asked her if she could check to see if that lip was gone--
and if not,
could she give it just a little help during the next wave?
She obliged us,
and I was praying that Mama C.'s body cooperated--
which it did!
Ten cms with no lip!!

The pushing part of delivery began...
it took Mama C just a couple of waves before she got that down
she pushed with her whole heart,
past all of the pain,
with her husband and
a circle of women around her--
Granma L., the doctor, the nurses, and me--
praising her efforts,
cheering her strength,
excited by her progress,
reassuring her that each push made a difference,
even when she asked,
"Is this baby ever coming out?!!"
"Come On!", she demanded of her body and her baby.

"One more good one." the doctor encouraged.

And that was that.
One more good one
and Baby Boy was out!

"You got out!" Mama C. rejoiced,
as her son was laid on her tummy.

The final wave brought joy and laughter,
love and hugs and tears
to each of us in the room,
as a gift for riding the tides so strongly.
And then the waves receded,
while the ripples are still coming.

Mama C. had the birth she had planned and prepared for--
a completely natural VBAC...
even tho' she had limits she could not control,
her inner strength abided with her,
and her prayers were answered.

To be true in sharing,
she did have some measurable amount of tearing,
and needed to have that repaired
with some intensity--
and she is still recovering from that--
but if you were to lay your own eyes on her,
you would see an incredibly strong woman
whose smile is genuine in self-satisfaction
and gratitude for a healthy, beautiful,
dark-haired baby boy who looks like his father.

As Granma L. and I were waiting in the recovery room,
she shared her observation that left a profound impression on my heart.
She said,
that meeting me through this little blog,
close to two years ago,
had basically set in motion
an answer to their family's prayers
that they hadn't even begun to ask--
(and I'm assuming that she meant for her daughter 
to have a natural birth after her 
unplanned, emergency c-section)--
but that Heavenly Father knew those prayers
and He was already answering them
by introducing Granma L. and me.

That's a very interesting thought,
isn't it?
Thinking about it,
makes me feel like I'm part of a bigger plan--
and I'm useful to Him and His children.
That's just what I always hoped for...

Childbirth does indeed bring us into the
realm of the Noble and Great.
Women are so much stronger than we admit...
the waves of childbirth show us that...

As Mama C. was enveloped in the
afterglow of childbirth,
she said,
loud enough for anyone who was in the room to hear:
" I love you, Dawn."
I love you, too, Mama C.

Then she declared for the world to hear:

Here comes another ripple...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

January Parents

A baby is due today.
We met with the very young couple yesterday--
they are confident as they approach
the threshold of Parenthood
for the first time.
As we listen to the baby's heart
and check his position,
the dad-to-be is
he looks up with a smile or two
every once in awhile,
then goes back to whomever has
his attention.

They have no questions.
Taken no classes--
not on birth
not on parenting
not on anything.

Mama is content
in her world--
"I trust my body to do this." she says.

I firmly believe she will have the birth she needs.
Whenever that time is...
it's not soon, tho.
Not tonight.

What about you?
Did you take any kind of birth or parenting class
before you had your child?
I've let this site go unattended much too long.
I'll be adding my doula experiences this week.
Thanks for coming!