Feb 26, 2009

Home Birth Manifesto I--You're Going to WHAT?!?!

Part II; Part III; Part IV; Safety; Logistics

Some of you know this, some of you don't. It's not something I've made widely known, mostly because I wasn't sure how much I wanted to get into dealing with people's wide & varied reactions. But I've decided that this is an appropriate venue to share with friends and strangers about the decision we've made to have a home birth with this kiddo.

I know, I know. Just stay with me.

It's precisely because of the wide & varied reactions that I want to put down, all in one place, my processes & reasons for wanting to do this. I don't think everyone should necessarily do it this way, and I hope I come across as respectful of all women's decisions regarding the childbirth. It's a beautiful thing about living in the USA, after all, having the freedom to make so many choices based on our individual situations and circumstances.

I guess the best place to start is with my own philosophy on childbirth. Being the nerd that I am, I imagine the possibilities as a spectrum. At one end you have the all-out, all-natural, "labor is bliss" birther, and at the other the one who says "I prefer to just get it done with a planned, 20-minute surgery, thanks." And then you have everywhere in between, which is to say that there are as many ways to do labor & birth as there are women.

As for me...simply put, I'm a crunchy birther. I do childbirth naturally; that is, I give my body every chance to do what it was designed to do--start labor on its own, continue the process at its own pace, etc--and use coping techniques other than drugs to manage the pain. And there is pain. While there are some along the spectrum who attempt, and even achieve, a natural and painless birth, I'm not one of them. But it is endurable. Like many physical feats, natural birthing is largely a mental challenge. Birth is oftentimes compared to running a marathon, something that most people don't simply show up for. Considerable time is spent in preparation, knowing that much work lies ahead, and that in order to complete the race one will have to accept and even embrace the work that is to be done.

Another phrase commonly heard is "pain with a purpose." There is pain associated with injury, when your body is telling you something is wrong, and then there is pain associated with normal processes. Athletes experience a sort of pain they call "intensity." Getting in shape means working through the intensity to achieve conditioning. With labor and birth, knowing the source and cause of the pain enables the mother to relax and work through it so that she can have the natural birth she hopes for.

But why? Why not take advantage of the relief available with drugs? Everyone knows there's risk with any drug, but lots and lots and lots of mothers labor with drugs with no trouble. In fact in some cases the relief from the drug allows the mother to relax, which helps labor to progress faster.

Well it boils down to a couple things for me. First, I really, really, really don't like needles. A lot. I can handle them when necessary, like for having blood taken and getting vaccinated and whatnot, if by "handle" you mean I shut my eyes and make the bearer of the needle count to three before doing the deed. Then I do alright, except sometimes with having blood taken I get lightheaded and have to lie down for a minute. That hasn't happened in almost 2 years, but it doesn't make me like needles any better.

Second is that when I ask the old "risk versus benefit" question, for me the benefits of having the drugs do not outweigh the risks. I know that most likely I would be fine and the baby would be fine, but while drugs can help labor progress, in some cases they relax the mother so much that labor slows way down, which increases the chances of a c-section. And assuming I'm fine and the baby is fine, it's really important to me to avoid a c-section. Surgery, needles, longer recovery, blah blah blah. Plus for me specifically, strong abs help me to manage my SI joint dysfunction, so not cutting the abs is ideal.

Consequently, I do a lot of mental preparation for the work of giving birth. Around the third trimester I can sense myself turning inward. I give myself little mini pep talks about how I can do this, and I will take it one step at a time. I visualize myself working through contractions, I visualize my body doing everything bodies do during the process, and I visualize the baby working his way down & out. And yes, I even talk to the baby some, telling him that it's going to be hard work for both of us, but that we're going to work together and get through it just fine. Cheesy at times, perhaps, but effective. Personally, I do give thought to "what if something goes wrong," because it comforts me to work through the contingencies and know what I would want to do if such-and-such happened.

Anyway, this seems like a good stopping point. I'm going to close comments for now, but I'll open them up again once I get more of the story in place.

Up next I will share about my experiences surrounding His Highness's birth...

UPDATE--3/8/09--I'm opening the comments. Please no horror stories until May or so. :)

Feb 24, 2009

Skerrib Blames Facebook...

Skerrib is beginning to think in status snippets a lot of the time.

Skerrib enjoys talking about herself in the third person.

Skerrib is feeling pretty good, but still has some issues with tastes & smells.

Skerrib hopes that her taste & smell issues go away with her enchanted condition.

Skerrib drilled pretend holes in a pretend hunk of aluminum, and then pretend-dropped it at three times the acceleration due to gravity. For real.

Skerrib is grateful to be enjoying her work-work.

Skerrib is fascinated by His Highness's thought processes and enjoys watching his wheels turn.

Skerrib is watching how they make wooden pencils on a History Channel special about carbon.

Skerrib loves pencils.

Skerrib loves mechanical pencils more than wooden, but still loves all pencils.

Skerrib listened to Raffi for the first time this week and loves him.

Skerrib had expected Raffi's music to be New Age-ish. Probably because of Yanni.

Skerrib was pleasantly surprised to find that Raffi's music is folksy. Yay folksy.

Skerrib was not surprised to find that Raffi is Canadian. Not sure why.

Skerrib is contemplating re-doing her post labels.

Skerrib walked 2.5 miles today.

Skerrib cleaned all the bathrooms today.

Skerrib accomplished quite a bit today, but consequently is wiped out!

Skerrib is off to bed...

Feb 17, 2009

Sequestered in the Nerdery...

Hello all, just wanted to check in. I have a head full of stuff to write about, just no time to do it. I was off work for a few weeks, but I just got some really important nerd work to do. Really important as in feeding the hungry--no. Promoting world peace--maybe. Defending our nation--possibly. Really important to the work my peeps are doing on their respective projects--definitely. And they pay me, so this is where I cave to the man and retreat to my nerdery to do CAD, and FEM, and stuff like that.

Some snippets to get you through--

His Highness locked himself in my car with a box of mini PB cups. While we were trying to get him to hit the UNlock button he was having the time of his life getting all jacked up on chocolate & peanut butter. My keys were on a carabiner attached to the diaper bag...in my car. I LOVE carabiners these days...they might be close to achieving Emotional-Tap-Light status for me...but I really need to remember to keep my keys in my pocket when dealing with His Highness and cars. Maybe a carabiner on my belt loop or something...

...While on vacation it was left to me to explain a rather explicit and sexual term to my mom. The Cat Daddy thinks I should blog about it. I'll leave it at this: we were in a restaurant with Dad & Grandma (and His Highness, but he's not embarrassed by his parents' crassness), and the term is also the name of a chick-band that sings a song called "To the Nth Degree." Go Google & knock yourselves out. The Cat Daddy better watch the kind of spots he puts me in, that's all I'm saying...

...My first thought was to not blog about the above anecdote because I like to keep the place family-friendly. But sometimes I wonder if I'm using that excuse because I'm more afraid of what my readers might think if they find out how crass I can truly be. Not that I want this to become a potty-blog, but am I trying too hard to present a certain image at the expense of being my true self? Maybe. It's something I'm mulling over lately. I've always wanted to be edgy, but I don't want to hurt people. I don't want to offend everyone, but the not-hurting is the more important thing to me. There are some people that maybe I need to offend, because at least then they'll know me better. I also like to think it takes creativity to convey the crassness of things without actually being crass, but maybe I'm just way overthinking it. And overestimating my creativity. We'll see...

...I went on a new spouses' tour of the base here. It didn't suck. And they fed us...

...I bought a huge Valentine's balloon for His Highness. I bought it yesterday though, so it was marked down to 99 cents from, like, 10 bucks. Rock ON. I also bought a second vacuum yesterday. It's more or less a Dustbuster with a stick & handle on it. Lightweight. Cordless. Good for doing stairs. Perfect for letting His Highness "vonnie dwive" to his heart's content. Between the balloon & the vacuum, you'd've thought it was Christmas at our house yesterday...

...Miranda lives in AZ but is spending a semester studying in England, living in a castle, and seeing all sorts of cool stuff. She's an artsy, creative, drama-type, so her stuff is really fun to read. Go check her out while you're waiting for me to regale you with tales of my own fascinating life. In Cheyenne...

...I'm not, like, leaving or anything. Just not sure when I'll have time again to post as often as I'd like (every few days as opposed to every week or so). Maybe never. Or maybe now that I've said "I have no time," I'll suddenly have a ton of time to blog, and I'll become this super-efficient writer that only needs one draft and doesn't need to edit-post-edit-post-edit-post ad nauseum. Shyah...

Countdown: 8 weeks (or so) to Baby #2. We finally have a boy-name that might be "it," but I'm afraid to make it official for some unknown reason. Stupid indecision...

Feb 10, 2009

Funky Little Gifts...

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Trying to make sense of it--there are about 10,007 factors that are likely contributing to it. Most of them I have little control over, so it seems for now the thing to do is put my head down and press forward, looking for the little gifts where I can.

Today's first little gift: the parent room at the base gym. The weather is still iffy here, and I've given up on the jogging until further notice, but as long as I take the initiative to get my butt dressed & out of the house I have access to some good equipment at the base gym. And they have a room with cardio stuff AND a play area for the kids, so I can schlep His Highness right along with me, and do my 30 minutes on the elliptical. The benefits are two-fold, in that it helps with the cabin fever by getting me out of the house, and I get the chemical benefits of a workout, which for me is significant and important. Endorphins = awesome.

Today's second little gift: new jammies. I bought them for myself, but I was pleasantly surprised at the boost I got from a pair of $8 blue plaid cotton pants and a cute little coordinating tee. The tee I can't wear until after Baby-Whats-His-Name is born, but I will smile every time I see it hanging in the closet until then.

Tonight's little gift to myself: going to bed NOW. Of the 10,007 factors contributing to my funk, this is one I have nearly-complete control over, yet am having a hard time just doing it. After His Highness is in bed, it's tempting to want to camp out on the 'puter and do stuff. It's a valid thing, processing and connecting with folks. But sleep is also an important thing...so it's a trade-off every day, depending on my needs & choices at that particular time. Tonight, going to bed wins--hurrah!!

Feb 7, 2009

Autopsy: Lest We Forget...

This is the photographic documentation from the autopsy I did on my electric hand mixer. The upper right-ish portion shows the gears (plastic, off-white in color), which were completely stripped. The inside smelled like cookie dough (mmmm, cookie dough...) and was lightly coated in a fine powder, which I'm assuming was composed primarily of flour.

The stripped gears explain why, at the time of death, the mixer was running but the beaters weren't turning; I therefore feel confident saying that these were the cause of death.

Plastic gears that go bad quickly are a big complaint among the hardcore mixer-types; however, certain plastics can be really strong and durable, even compared with some metals, so I don't think plastic gears always necessarily equal shortened mixer life. These gears were likely designed to last only a certain number of years, and my guess is that they met or exceeded their planned lifespan; therefore I am ruling, in this case, that the gears were stripped over time due to natural causes (friction, etc).

You'll notice the name "Chefmate" on the far left side. If you ever come across it, keep my story in mind. The thought that I might make a difference in even one person's baking experiences makes it all worthwhile.

Rest in peace, little Chefmate; rest in peace...

Feb 4, 2009

Conversations With Mom...

Arrived home yesterday from our 2-week Arizona fun-time extravaganza. It was all I dreamed and more. When I spend any amount of time with my family it almost always amazes me that, even though I often feel quite unique, I am more similar to them than I am different.

My mom is the kicker. Let it be known far & wide that while I have the nerdy, engineering humor of my dad, the random & warped portion comes from my mom. As does the part that is funny without intending to be. And the part that doesn't always think before speaking, or is fatigued to just short of coherence, or joins the conversation mid-way through, and therefore ends up saying some pretty bizarre things. And I think the latter just explained the former. Yes, in many ways I am my mother's daughter. Cases in point--

1. Dad & the Cat Daddy painted the guest room a very nice green. They had to unplug the internet temporarily so they wouldn't also paint the power cords & coaxial cable a very nice green. I'm such a baby about not having internet access. I think it was off maybe 20 minutes, but to me it felt like three days. After the Cat Daddy told me everything was back on I still couldn't connect, so I went in to investigate. He had reconnected the cable & everything else, but had forgotten to plug in the modem. So I plugged in the modem, called him silly, and took credit for fixing the internet.

As I was relating this to Dad later, mom joined in the conversation roughly halfway through and heard just enough to determine that the internet had been down for about 20 minutes. Not clear on why it was down, she asked if it was because the paint fumes disrupted the wireless and needed time to dissipate before it would work again.

I was about to explain that the tiny people that live in the modem and run on little treadmills to keep everything running had staged a temporary boycott because they didn't like the very nice green paint she picked out, but then I remembered the time I asked the Cat Daddy a question about rewinding DVD's, and decided not to pursue the matter further.

2. Eating at Longhorn for Dad's belated birthday dinner. Dad, the Cat Daddy, & I were debating the nature of the artwork on the wall at our booth. It was very pretty--a desert scene with vibrant sunset-ish colors in it. Was it a painting? A screen print? Some sort of lithograph, or other artistic method we know nothing about (lotsa possibilities there)?

Mom said, "It's the Grand Canyon, you idiots!!"

And she was correct. It was the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately that still didn't explain what it was made of. We never did find out, in fact. We really are idiots when it comes to art.

It drives the Cat Daddy nuts when I ask him several clarifying questions in a row, but he doesn't realize that doing so prevents exactly the type of situation above. Maybe he'll read this and cut me a little slack the next time. Just saying.

3. Upon further consideration, my third example needs to be its own post in order for me to do it any sort of justice. I'll give you a hint: it involves Napoleon Dynamite. And maybe the Catholic channel...

Feb 1, 2009

Four thirty...four thirty!!!

I'm playing on the music team at the home church today. I have to be up at 0-dark-30 to be there on time, and was a little worried that my alarm wouldn't go off, or I wouldn't hear it, or something. But never fear, this is one of the few benefits of the sketchy third-trimester sleep. A little bit of insomnia made sure I was up with time to spare.

I've decided that you can't judge people's biorhythms (fantastic big word, courtesy of smiller) while they have small children. Of the options, I'm more of a morning person, but you'd never know it since I almost always sleep as late as I possibly can these days. Granted, this is usually no later than 7 am or so, but back in the day I was a 6 am riser, deliberately, so that I could get my jog out of the way. Now it's more like a whiny "Mommy doesn't want to get up, can't we sleep a little longer?" followed by a little-yet-surprisingly-insistent "No, Mommy up. Cereal. Vitamins. Mommy UP!"

Well, no worries. Someday I will be there again, but for now it is what it is. Joy, fun, seasons in the sun, blah blah blah. And this way I get a consistent breakfast and a daily reminder to take my own vitamins while certain little ruffians eat their gummy Nemos.

I'm also wondering if I'm not slightly funnier in the always-a-little-behind-on-sleep state. Alert enough that I'm not totally useless, but falling just short of complete coherence. Kind of like a mild buzz, except without the alcohol.

Cards in the Super Bowl today, and we head for home tomorrow, so I'll likely be offline for a coupla days. Yee-haw...