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    Entries in birth (8)


    do you hear that, world?

    First, he said he was painting a picture of Mama. Here's one eye, and two eyes, and hair and some legs.

    I asked again: "What are you painting?" This is a tree. Here are some leaf-es.

    I'm painting like an artist, he said. "When you're painting, you are an artist," I told him. Do you hear that, world? I'm AM an artist, he replied. He doesn't quite grasp contractions yet.

    I couldn't make that shit up.

    When he was finished, he explained that he'd painted a picture of Mama and Zelda, when Zelda was in Mama's belly. It sure was purple in there, he told me.


    speaking of placentas

    One of my biggest worries for my first postpartum period was depression. It turned out to be unfounded -- I didn't have any "baby blues" so to speak, though I did have a few crying jags resulting from the certainty that I would somehow accidentally kill my baby, and the realization that "the parents" were never coming to pick him up and I was well and truly responsible for someone else for all eternity. This has, so far, worked out for the best, I'm glad to report, and this second postpartum time has been similarly depression-free. What I didn't bother worrying about, because it's impossible to imagine, was the crippling fatigue. It is, for those who don't know, the kind of tired that makes you a different person. A person who, partially thanks to the hormones, hates others who are sleeping or have recently slept. Add to that fatigue inherent in new parenthood a sort of big blood loss and you are, to put it plainly, screwed. A hateful, palefaced sweatpant-ed zombie. 

    Placenta encapsulation wasn't something that I'd heard too much about when I was pregnant with George. I knew people who'd kept them, buried them and planted trees which was nice, but not really for renters. It pains me a little to think that I wasted that first placenta because I didn't know better, remarking that it was cool as my midwife held it up, then okaying her to pitch it. Shortly after I became pregnant with Zelda, though, keeping in mind the blood loss I experienced at George's birth, and knowing placentas are iron-rich, I decided to have her placenta encapsulated and I contacted Doula David, Bellingham's placenta guru. 

    David showing me the different parts of Zelda's placenta and cord

    This overview of the medicinal benefits of one's own placenta covers most of the reasons I chose to consume mine: preventing anemia, increasing milk production, increasing energy, and curbing depression, but it was really just bet-hedging. I figured I'd do it because it couldn't hurt, but I didn't expect much, results-wise. I've been surprised, however, at the noticeable difference in my mood, milk supply and energy level on the days when I forget to take the pills. I'm never raring to run laps around the block or anything, but even the smallest boost counts when you're teetering on the brink of I could fall asleep while standing here brushing my teeth and it's only 9am. There have been days when I've felt downright great after sleeping for five (non-consecutive, as if that needs to be mentioned to anyone with a newborn) hours and taking a few placenta pills. My recovery this time was fantastic, though a more significant blood loss meant lightheadedness for awhile when overdoing it (hello, mallwalking at 1 week pp; bad idea for myriad reasons) and between the placenta and fenugreek I'm taking I think I could feed triplets, though the 3 month old and 2 year old are pretty happy with the bounty. 

    Unlike some women I've heard talking about their partners' disgust at the idea of placenta consumption and citing that as a deterrent, I'm happy to say that my partner (neener neener) was never anything but supportive. He looked at the placenta with me after it was delivered, and just the other day we marveled together at the dried cord. I'm guessing that, because he's... you know, not a jerk, he values the fact that my body made this crazy amazing organ that nourished a baby -- our baby -- for many months, and continues to nourish me. In fact, he nightly delivers to me my vitamins and placenta pills on a little dish, often accompanied by a bowl of ice cream. Okay, now I'm just gloating.

    Hedging my bets paid off; I'm so glad I didn't listen to the "alternative medicine" naysayers or the grossed out how-could-you?!ers. My only regret is that I didn't do it the first time. I wish George had a sweet placenta print like Zelda's, made out to him with love from our doula. 


    zelda's birth story

    My absence is easily explained in pictures, and I thought several times about simply telling Zelda's birth story here in pictures, just to raise a flag saying we're still here, and all accounted for! But that would be a disservice to her and, kind of, to me as well. It's been nearly three weeks since our littlest made her appearance, and we're still getting the hang of things. Two kids is different. Intense. Our house has been the site of much snuggly hibernation and the accompanying bouts of cabin fever, especially from big brother. 

    Truly, as birth stories go, hers is short and uneventful which is maybe the way I prefer it. At 12:15am on January 31st I was still awake, willing myself to sleep as I'd done every night for the preceding, oh...four months. This may be the appropriate time to say that this pregnancy was not particularly enjoyable. As pregnancies go, mine aren't the worst by any means, but the side effects of swirling hormones and another person hanging out in my midsection are insomnia, some pretty bad pelvic pain and the kind of fatigue I could never have imagined had I been forewarned. Of course, my children are a joy well worth the pain and yada yada, you know the deal. Nonetheless, this time around took its toll and I can't say I was disappointed to feel that first contraction at 12:15 on the morning of the 31st. Since George's birth took me by surprise -- I was pushing before we left the house -- I had psyched myself up to set our plans in motion at the VERY FIRST signs of labor, or what could potentially be labor. My midwife concurred; we didn't want a repeat of the haste involved in my last birth, which was accidentally attended by a midwife we'd never met while ours was still en route to the birth center. 

    Using the goofy contraction timer app on my phone, I began timing, got out of bed and had Nathan start making calls. Midwife first, then my mom to come over and sit with George, then our doula. My contractions were already 3 minutes apart and a minute long, so I hopped into a warm bath to try and slow things down while my mom made her way to our house. It worked! My contractions got farther apart and I relaxed a little, confident that we'd get to the birth center in time to settle in and labor awhile. Using what little I remember from the Hypnobabies course I took in preparation for George's birth, with every contraction I focused on something -- the bathtub drain plug, if you must know -- and isolated the parts of my body that were working to move my baby down and open my cervix. I did my best to let my body do its thing and my contractions were feeling good. Productive. Understandable. They were uncomfortable, but not yet painful, which reassured me that we would have a more "normal" labor this time.  

    My mom got to our house and it was only a matter of minutes until my midwife called to say she was almost into town and we could head to the birth center; she would meet us there, as would our doula. I got out of the bath, got ready (I was grateful that I'd flat-ironed my hair earlier in the afternoon, on a hunch; call me vain) and we gave my mom instructions on what to do if George woke up and where to find breakfast makings if things went longer than we anticipated. I was able to dress myself this time(!), make sure we had everything we needed, say goodbye to my mom and get to/in the car relatively easily. Again, this convinced me that we still had some time. 

    After a quick car ride, we arrived at the birth center. One contraction held me up on the ramp to the front door, but once it passed we went in and were greeted by the sweet faces of our doula and my midwife. We chatted for a minute while Nathan put our bag down and Winni, my midwife, asked to check my progress. 

    After a quick check, then a double check with a somewhat puzzled look, she declared me "complete." 

    Okay, I said. But how dilated am I? 

    You're complete, she repeated. Like, you're there. 

    I was confused and surprised, but really, really stoked. I hadn't even had what I'd call a painful contraction yet. How did I get so lucky? I asked if I could get in the tub and Winni, who had already started the water, gave the go-ahead. Once in the tub, I had a slightly pushy-feeling contraction, and told Winni as much. She told me to do whatever I felt like (how many OB-GYNs would tell you that?!), and I just enjoyed hanging out in the water for a little while, talking to Nathan and doula David between contractions, which were still coming regularly but were also alleviated by the deep, warm water. I was instructed to put my hair in a bun 

    and had a few sips of gatorade before the urge to push came on. My water broke after the first good push, and Winni asked Nathan if he'd like to deliver the baby. He said he would, and she asked him to go wash his hands. As he did, another push came on and Winni called him back, as the baby was already crowning! Winni reached down to turn the baby slightly, and she came out into the water, into her papa's and Winni's hands. She was placed on my chest and covered in a blanket, and, while we stared at her for a few minutes, I forgot to check and see if she was, in actuality, a girl. 

    She was. Our baby girl was born at 2:27am, just two hours and thirteen minutes after my very first contraction. Our awesome doula was taking pictures in the dim light, and though they're all blurry, I feel like they really capture the warm, mid-night haziness of my labor.


    She was round-headed and fuzzy; cried right away. I delivered the placenta easily and got out of the bath, into a fluffy white robe, then into the big, beautiful bed where Winni checked me and declared me free of tears and other unpleasantness.

    Like I did after George was born, I bled a lot. A lot. In fact, I made the unfortunate decision to get up and pee too soon and paid for my ambition with an embarrassing fainting episode. Luckily, doula David caught me on the way down and the rest of my recovery was without incident. After a little checking-out of the baby, who weighed in at 7 lbs, 15 oz and measured 19.5 inches long, our team left us alone to stare at the baby, nurse and take a short nap. By 5am we were ready to head home (but not before taking some photos of Winni and David).

    Once again, I consider my labor and birth experience(s) to be incredibly charmed. I've been so lucky to have the midwife I do -- one whom I genuinely love, with 30 years of experience, who hugs us and kisses us and talks about the time she saw Wilco in Barcelona -- and the doula I do -- one whom I whole-heartedly recommend to every pregnant woman I know -- not to mention my partner. Do I feel a little sheepish saying that my labor was easy, and knowing it's not an overstatement? Yeah. But also? You guys, it totally ruled. 


    Zelda Marigold, meeting her big brother. 1/31/12


    on hiring a doula

    I've encouraged a gajillion women to invest in a doula. I count several doulas among my friends and am never at a loss for one to recommend to any interested parties. I've got a super-hippie doula reference, a regular-lady doula reference, a conservative Christian doula reference, and most everything in between. I love playing a small part in facilitating that relationship, and always feel a little like a matchmaker when I hear of a successful interview. I even (somewhat creepily) had my picture taken with Penny Simkin, who is, you know, THE DOULA.

    Penny, Lauren of Hobo Mama, and me

    There's one hitch in this lovefest, however, and it appears when someone asks: Who did you use? 

    Because me? I didn't hire a doula. Too expensive, too self-indulgent, too much focus on me, and nobody I could fathom being "in the room." I had a supportive, informed partner and the best midwife in the entire goddamned world. What did I need a doula for? This thinking was borne out when my labor lasted less than three hours and we settled in comfortably at home to revel in our great experience and sweet new baby. 

    When I learned of a local doula who did placenta encapsulation, I contacted him (yep: him) to check on pricing and availability. It was something I hadn't really explored with my previous pregnancy and, if we could swing it financially, was on my to-do-this-time list. After all, it's like medicine, right? A justifiable expense. He directed me to his website and I was really impressed with his discussion of gender, his inclusion of chosen families, his use of the phrase "dads and other partners" and -- ahem -- his sliding scale. This is totally the guy I would hire! I thought. If I were hiring a doula, that is. 

    Dear reader, I hired him. Or, more accurately, we're trading him some design and web work for his services. After sending a rambling email detailing the reasons I thought I didn't need a doula, he responded (in the least pushy way imaginable) with the myriad things a doula does outside of the potentially narrow window of direct labor support. Sandwiches! Organization! Photos! And, also, help if my labor is not as swift and mighty as last time. The four of us (Nathan, George, Doula David and I) had a coffee shop date where we talked websites and community and birthy stuff. And it was good. 

    I'm opening up to the idea of help, of allowing for the reality that we may not be able to handle it all on our own. And I have one more recommendable doula in my cache... as long as you're not due on February 1st. 

    What do you think about hiring a male doula? Or any doula? Did one attend your birth?


    quick hit: the mahogany way!

    George's birth story was featured the other day on The Mahogany Way Birth Cafe! It's a longer version than I'd previously written, with some different pictures. I'm stoked to be included and encourage everyone to follow both The Birth Cafe and Darcel's other blog, The Mahogany Way, ASAP!