Friday, August 26, 2011

Mother Nature

In my mind Virginia is really part of the Midwest. Sure we live only 45 minutes (on a good day, with no traffic) from DC but out here way far away from the beltway there are cows and fields and pastures and occasionally strangers who wave at you while you are driving down the road. Just like where I grew up in Missouri. A little bit rural, a little bit suburban, close enough to a major metropolitan area to enjoy professional sports and 'culture' but far enough away to not be in the hustle and bustle. Weather wise it's like the Midwest too...just without the threat of tornadoes. Nice and safe. Until this past Tuesday.

I was at my desk, in the basement of my building, ALONE (there are no other offices in the basement!) working away when the whole building started shaking. It scared the shit out of me. I questioned what the hell was happening, got on the floor under my desk. Then I decided "I don't want to be here. My desk could collapse on me not to mention the three floors of a building built in the 30s could fall on me." I darted upstairs. There was NO ONE in the hallway. Another flash of where the hell is everyone. I ran outside. Into the arms of a close friend of mine and the "Oh my god! Kelly! We're so sorry." They didn't think to yell downstairs or look for me in the panic.

Most of us had just experienced our first earthquake. A 5.8 quake. The epicenter was 65 miles from our house. I felt an aftershock at 8pm Tuesday night, another around 1am, and another last night at 1am. They scare the shit out of me. I have woken up during both the early morning aftershocks and reached for Phillip in the bed. Praying they pass quickly. I wonder when aftershocks stop being aftershocks and start being earthquakes again. I can not imagine living in California or having lived through the terrible tragedy in Japan this past March.

And now Irene is beating down our door. They keep saying that this hurricane will be something that most of us will never experience again in our lifetime because of how wide the storm is as it heads up the east coast and across major metropolitan areas. I realize we very well may be with out power for several days. We have a camp stove, plenty of gas to operate the stove, drinking water and enough food to last several days. My biggest concern if we loose power is having enough ice on hand to keep my breast milk frozen. If I loose my freezer stash I will be devastated. Luckily my neighbor is part owner of a generator company! I hope he has one at the ready for us.

So we are doing okay. Just waiting for the next event. Trying to stay safe and calm. Batten down the hatches!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Letting Go....

In less than two weeks Sophia will be heading off to full day, all week pre-school. My heart thinks she is heading off to college. So this is the feeling millions of moms have felt as their kids head off to kindergarten, off to middle school, off to college, off to get married. Letting go a little at a time. It's like letting out the line of my rod and reel. Just a little bit of letting go and waiting for that bite. And then reeling them back in.

I am excited because she will be learning and interacting and growing so much during this time. But I'm also nervous and anxious. I think it is a lot for her to be in school everyday and all day at age 3 but it is the option that has to work for us right now.

I am comforted by the fact that she will be at the same school where Phillip teaches. They will be able to have lunch together occassionaly and he will be on hand in case of any discipline issues. And because she thinks right now "I get to go to school with My Papa" I think this will ease her transition into school. She doesn't really get that she's not going to Miss Ellen and Miss Jackie's like she did last year.

I'm bummed that her former school/daycare had to close because a lot of their families moved and they simply didn't have the enrollment to sustain staying open. Sophia LOVES those ladies and really flourished in the last year under their wings. We were looking forward to Emma being there but she was their only charge. So alas, she is with a new daycare provider. We'll see how that goes.

The other thing that is very exciting about Sophia's beginning school adventure? SCHOOL SUPPLIES! Fresh crayons, Elmer's glue, sharp scissors all neatly packed into a backpack. This was totally lost on Phillip.

So while I have to let my little love bug go, learn, and grow...I do get to reel her in at the end of the day, hug her, kiss her, squish her and watch her take a bite out of life and soak in learning.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Positive Press on Home birth!

A friend of mine emailed me last week a query for HARO-Help A Reporter Out. The reporter was writing a story on home birth and looking for people to interview. I responded and said I would be happy to share my story. Today the article ran in the New York Times! "Demand Growing for Giving Birth at Home" by Roni Caryn Rabin ran in the Health section.

I spoke to the reporter for about forty minutes last week. Overall I'm pleased with her story but it is interesting rereading it how little details stray a bit from their intention. For example "she narrowly avoided getting a Cesarean section" isn't exactly true. I said that had I had one of the other two doctors in the practice I probably would have ended up with a C-Section because I don't think they would have let me labor as long as the OB that was on call that day did. The OB on call was very aware of my intentions for natural, vaginal, childbirth. We got along very well and she understood my stance on childbirth. The other doctors were not as understanding.

I find the statistic published by The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology that "babies born at home are three times as likely as those born in a hospital to die before they are four weeks old" astounding.

While I agree that some factors should be taken into consideration before deciding on a home birth or hospital birth I don't think women who are pregnant with twins, have a breech baby, or want to attempt VBAC should be deterred from using a midwife. Midwives are trained to assist women in these situations and many women who have these "risk" can have a successful home birth. As a side note, many women who want to attempt VBAC are discouraged by their OBGYNs to do so and it is the midwife who opens her arms to these women.

The one thing I wish the reporter would have shared in her article is the simple need for women to better educate ourselves on pregnancy and labor options. I don't care which route you go- hospital or home birth- epidural or natural- vaginal or c-section we just need to be more responsible for EDUCATING ourselves on the process. We will research a product we want to purchase or a location for a vacation we want to take until we are blue in the face but when in comes to OUR BODIES, OUR CHILDREN we assume that doctor knows best and don't take this journey into our own hands! We need to steer this ship, not be mere passengers aboard for the ride.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The never ending sleep issue

A co-worker of mine gave birth to her first son one day before I gave birth to Emma. A few weeks ago she emailed several of the new moms at work to see if they had any advice for working with her son to establish a strong sleep pattern. The sleepless nights and crying were taking a toll on her. I recalled how many times I've asked for advice on the subject and the many sleep issues we have had. I forwarded her query onto another co-worker who's son is now about 14 months old. I remember her coming to work exhausted because her son just wouldn't sleep at normal hours. He seemed to keep her up constantly through the firs year. I liked her advice so much I asked if I could share it here. It seems we will always struggle with the topic of sleep so why not offer another perspective! It also helps to realize we really are all in this together!

Here is the original email:
"Jake is now 4 months + 9 days and is still waking up every 3 hrs (if not less) in the night. Not all wakings are hunger-based, but I’ve found the most effective way to get him back to sleep is by nursing him (I know… wrong method). Last night, with a FULL tank, he went to sleep at 7pm. His first waking was at 8:30/8:35/8:40/8:45 (paci finally worked), then 12 (feeding), then 2:45/2:50/2:55, then 3 (feeding) and then didn’t want to go back to sleep. By 4am, Israel decided that he was going to let him cry it out. Rough night…

So we are now forced to do some sort of sleep training for Jake. Can you please tell me what you did, whether you felt it was effective, what you would’ve done differently (if anything), etc.? Any words of comfort would also be appreciated for my breaking heart…"

My coworkers response:
"First, I TOTALLY feel your pain!! We had to let Calder cry when I finally had enough at about 5 or 6 mo. He was still getting up 2 or 3 times every night to nurse & it started getting worse so his doctor said he was a good candidate for crying since he clearly wanted to play when he woke up (nothing else would soothe him…not, the swing or even nursing when it was at its worst). She told me to use ear plugs (helpful) but it is very emotionally painful. Andy had to be the one to check on him (every few minutes) or just to sit with him (which just made Calder madder it seemed, but made us feel a bit better). I just couldn’t sit there & watch him cry & reach to be picked up!! Anyway, since I do all the feedings I thought it was fair that Andy deal with that!

Fortunately, we only had to do it a few nights (& occasional other times). My concern is always that I don’t know if he is just crying because he doesn’t feel well. (Unless he has a fever, how can we tell!?) So another helpful thing the doctor told us is to just give him Tylenol when he is having one of those nights (so you rule out him wailing because he’s not feeling well). (She said a few nights of Tylenol won’t hurt.) …Then, if that still doesn’t work after a ½ hour or so, do the sleep training. (sigh.)

When Calder was younger we didn’t let him cry, but we did bounce him to sleep on a Pilates ball, & if he kept waking up (like Jake did last night), we put him in his swing to sleep. That usually kept him asleep until his regular wake up times & then I could usually put him back in the crib after the feeding. I think this happened randomly, but regularly when he was 3-5 months old. I totally believe that every baby & family is different, and you might all be ready to (& need to) do sleep training now even though I wasn’t ready yet!

They say breastfed babies wake up more (don’t know if it’s true), but it’s so easy to breastfeed them back to sleep that it becomes hard NOT to do it! I still occasionally feed Calder at about 5 AM. (He’s 13 months old now.) …but then if he sleeps until 7:30 after that, it’s worth it to me. Rocking, etc. has never worked for Calder at all. (He would just get more upset.) Breastfeeding was/is the only thing that really works, so, of course, I do it. Yes, some people might think I’m “giving in” or being a weak parent, but he is a pretty good sleeper now has mostly stopped getting up, so maybe he just needed the extra nutrients? …or the extra love? (…at least that’s what I’ll choose to believe for all my wake-ups!)

It seems that most rough nights can be blamed on teething, growth spurts (needing more food), or being sick. …& then sometimes a little bit on just wanting more time to play, be with mom, etc. The problem is that it’s so hard to tell what’s going on! I usually give him a night or 2 (occasionally more if not totally desperate for sleep) to see if it might be health related, then, if it’s starting to be a pattern, we let him cry. Here’s the “method” that we have evolved into using: We go in & pick him up for a few seconds (try to calm him, but he usually screams, especially as you….) then put him back down, walk out of the room & let him cry if he must. We call it “ the reset.” When he amps back up to full pitch, we go in & do it again. Or, if he starts at full pitch we wait about 10-15 minutes to see if he’ll calm down before we reset him again. Now, when we have to do this, we usually only have to reset him once, since I think I knows that we’re not going to give in & let him nurse, play, etc.

Alright, I already wrote more than you will have time to read! Good luck. Remember that everything is changing & like everything with babies, it won’t last long! (We kept reminding each other “There is no ‘this.’”….as in “I can’t do ‘this!’” since it is always changing….both the good & the bad things!)

Thursday, August 04, 2011


It has almost been a month since I last blogged! I have been loosing sleep because Emma still seems to want to eat every 2 hours so I'm usually too exhausted to blog in the evening and we were on vacation for a week and a half. I have a lot of topics/ideas to blog about its just getting back into the swing of things!

Emma had her four month appointment in the middle of July. She is a little string bean! She was only 11lbs and 11 oz. She is 25 inches long. I believe she was in the 10% for weight!

She rolled over for the first time (okay, she rolled over at 2 months when I put her on my bed but I think that was a fluke) on Monday. She now can't get enough of the rocking and rolling to her tummy. She loves doing it so much that we may have to stop swaddling her! She rolls in her crib when sleeping and can't quiet roll again to her back so she wakes up!

Emma is also drooling like CRAZY! I think she has to have a tooth coming in.

Like I said previously, she is still pretty intent on eating every 2-3 hours. While she gave me the gift of sleeping through the night from month 2-3 she is now waking up in the middle of the night once or twice. It is so exhausting! She is random in her timing and eager to nurse. It usually only take 30 minutes to nurse and get her back to sleep but of course in the middle of the night it is so disruptful. I hope she changes her way soon.

Other than that she is full of smiles, likes to giggle, and still prefers to be held than in the swing or chair!

Although Sophia is just 3 and certainly has her three year old moments she has also said and done some things that are so sweet and mature. For example most nights at the dinner table after grace she will say "thank you for making dinner" to whom ever prepped the meal. This isn't something we taught her. She just started saying it. It melts my heart every time.

Tonight when the girls were playing in their room and I was putting up their laundry Sophia was giving Emma soft baby toys to touch and play with. She would take Emma's hand and help her feel the textures and see the mirrors or pictures on the soft blocks. When Emma would reach out and touch it on her own Sophia would clap for Emma and congratulate her! She exhibited the same enthusiasm when she would roll over. It is so fun to watch Sophia enjoy Emma learning and discovering!