Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Today we managed an enormous amount of cleaning/organizing/reorganizing in our upstairs. We pulled the crib out of storage, set it up in the boys' bedroom, set up our extra bunk beds in the extra bedroom/playroom we have, sorted stuffed animals into "Keep" and "Give away to charity" (there are THREE garbage bags full of stuffed animals in my car ready to give away), and moved all small choking hazard toys into the playroom from the boys' bedroom.
And we cleaned our bedroom.


Riley LOVES his crib, thinks it is hilarious, and wants in constantly. When in, he climbs and rattles the bars and laughs. I bought some crib bedding at Ikea that matches the bedding the two older boys have, and a round rug that matches as well. They are SO CUTE!!! I have some cute pictures! Sorry, my computer is still full and won't download any more pix; we are going to buy an extra hard drive to store our photos on until we can afford a bigger computer. Well, bigger as in newer, not actually as in taking up more mass. You know how it is!

Of course, he doesn't want to actually fall asleep in it. I don't think he knows it is possible to fall asleep without a parent cuddling you, at this point. So I put him to sleep in my arms and then instead of moving him to the playpen in our room, I quietly walked across the hall and put him in the crib. Viola, we have our bedroom back. :)
I feel a teeny bit sad that he is big enough for this now, but mostly I feel great about it, which tells me we are ready. He was waking up too often when we were getting ready to go to bed so it was really a disturbance for him, and he definitely is big enough to make himself heard from another room, especially with the baby monitor on. So, this is a good move. Of course, when he wakes up to feed he will move to our bed but we will be free of baby for the first few hours of the night! I'm going to encourage him to nap in his crib too, so that he becomes more comfortable with the crib in general. Eventually I'd like to encourage some independent falling asleep behaviour so that we can get him to sleep after a short cuddle instead of cuddling all the way to sleep. But we will get there. For now, this works beautifully. Well, so far! One night in!

And our playroom is functional again. It has been awhile since we could say that! It has been a freaking mess in there for months and months. So bad our kids didn't play in our playroom because it was too hard to move around. And now we have a BED for our 'spare bed' mattress!! It will be a bit weird to have to ask Nana to climb up onto the bunk bed to sleep, but no less weird than asking her to crawl onto her mattress on the floor.

I will post pictures when we get the hard drive (this week), but I will just say that it feels AWESOME to have rearranged, organized, and cleaned up our upstairs. Whew. I'm an organizing maniac these days. Laundry. Now beds and bedrooms. What next? ...........Brent has been complaining about the state of our closet for months........maybe that will be up next??? [and seriously, the state of our closet is absolutely my fault. he is correct in complaining and not doing, because there is a mountain of MY clothing and my art supplies on the floor so he can't even reach his of these days I'll get to it!]

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cesarean section risks

As stated in the Vancouver Sun this week;

While there are clearly cases when C-sections are necessary to protect the health of mother and baby, C-sections are associated with five times more postpartum cardiac arrests, five times more wound infections and twice as many anesthetic complications than in vaginal births. C-sections cost the health-care system 65 per cent more, partly because of longer hospital stays.

This is from an article regarding the mismanagement of a VBAC at BC Women's 7 years ago which resulted in injury to the baby. The article isn't actually about the risks of cesareans, but it mentions them so I quoted it here. If you are interested you can read the entire article here, but I wanted to highlight that elective cesareans carry risks our culture often ignores, mainly, in my opinion, because our medical community ignores it and has an inappropriately strong bias towards cesarean section surgeries.

Cesareans are necessary and save lives in 5-15% of cases. So why is our cesarean rate at 30% in BC? It's not 'just another way to have a baby.' It is not inherently less risky simply because we can control it.

I believe the driving force behind changing our birth statistics MUST BE CLIENT DRIVEN. Traditionally, obstetrics does not undergo a major change unless there is a client demand for it. In the seventies women achieved a major shift in obstetrical practices by demanding their partners be present in deliveries, there to be a focus away from the Anesthetic-episiotomy-and-forceps style of delivery that had been the overwhelming majority since the 1920s, and a focus more upon natural, unmedicated childbirth.
If we know, we can make informed choices and advocate for shifts in obstetrical attitude away from a bias towards cesareans. That is why I talk about it all the time, so that together we can advocate for change. I just think maternal health to be too important an issue for our culture to be happy with less than ideal standards of care! We CAN push our medical community to strive for a healthier cesarean rate, I know we can.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I was crocheting downstairs tonight, when I heard Ayden's door open.

"Mommy, I'm scared!" We've been reading the BFG at night lately; I think it is causing some issues. So after some cajoling and a rice cake and some water, Ayden settled into my bed.
A little while later, "Wahhhhh!!!!!" Some breast and a cuddle, and the youngest one was also settled into my bed. With a rather large, stuffed dog between them to hopefully keep the older one from rolling onto the younger one while sleeping.
A little while later, I heard a soft 'click' from Matthew's door. Some footsteps upstairs. Is he going to the bathroom? Does he need anything from me? Suddenly I hear on the baby monitor, 'rustle rustle, rustle rustle.' Ack! The baby is on my bed. Up the stairs I run, five at a time, into my bedroom to find that Matthew, woken up by something and in a half sleep state, has stumbled into my bedroom with his pillow in hand, looking for me and found instead a baby and a stuffed dog, and Ayden! Somewhat confused, he is standing by my side of the bed, sniffling and crying.
Said sniffling and crying wakes Riley up, whose cries and rustling wake Ayden up...

Voila; mayhem.

I can't sleep in the same bed as Matthew because he snores and it keeps me awake. And I can't convince Ayden to give up his fear and sleep in his own bed, I can't lift him up to his bunk bed while asleep because he is too heavy, and there is no way I'm convincing RILEY to sleep in his own bed after the first feed of the night, having never done so before in his short 9 months of life. Three boys and me in a bed? I don't care if it IS king sized, this is not happening!! I picked up Riley, took Matthew back to his room and stayed with him until he fell back asleep. By the time I got back, Ayden was back asleep again, but horizontal across my bed. Luckily Riley settled again with minimal coaxing.

Of course it goes without saying that Brent is on night shift.

But I had that thought again, 'Well that was kind of easy!' Not too shabby.

Riley is pure sweetness, cuddled up next to me, breastfeeding, holding on to my breast with two fists, and his long long loooong dark eyelashes resting on his fat cheeks. They all are sweet. Especially when they sleep.

Can I just say that this time around I am the breastfeeding champion? With Ayden I had to sit down with him in my lap, or lie down. That was my positional repertoire. This time I breastfeed in the Bjorn, the Ergo, the sling (not so discreet, my sling. Need a ring sling. Need a ring sling. No way my hubby will let me buy one MORE babywearing object), walking along, sitting, lying down, sitting up with him facing me on my lap, or, his most recent favourite position: one foot on the bed, one foot on momma's squishy tummy, bum in the air, side of the face on the bed, one hand embedded as far as it will go in breast and the other playing with his ear. This kid never stops moving. Up goes the bum, thump down it goes, one leg in the air, the other leg slamming my stomach as hard as it can, bum up again, hand kneading the breast, knead, knead, knead, bum UP, then slam into my stomach, head up, go-go-gadget nipple streeeeeeeeeeetching, then panic as it slides out of the mouth DON"T LET GO DON"T LET GO, bury the head in my breast so that both nostrils are blocked by breast, SLAM down goes the bum again. Seriously, I will be surprised if my nipples are not nine feet long by the time this kid is done with me. What a pooter. At least he is getting better at breastfeeding with minor distractions in the room. Sunday night he actually fed in a roomful of people at a church meeting. I'm not modest about feeding him; but he is supremely distracted by ANYTHING in the room. But I've persisted in offering when we are near distractions, while also knowing he won't settle and eventually heading upstairs to our bedroom where it is quiet and free of bothersome stuff. He's not quite to the point of being able to feed at the park, but in our kitchen he will feed if the older boys are not talking and I'm not clicking away at the computer. It's a start!

Beautiful mayhem. That is my motto.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I used to have a filthy mouth. I'm not so bad anymore. Tonight I was making dinner and the cheese burned, which caused the smoke alarm to screech like there was a major disaster of epic proportions going on in my kitchen. I WANTED to say FUCK but instead I said "SHUT UP!"

Ayden, who was sitting at the kitchen table playing Spiderman Shuffle, commented several times, "Mommy, that's a bad word."

Finally I turned to him and said, "Well I guess I'm just a bad person!" Jeepers. Give a mom a break around here, already!

Good friends are golden

Last week on Thursday friends of ours from church (hi Jenna) invited us over for dinner. I felt kind of rude, because I had to leave before the evening was finished to go to book club, but another friend from book club had also been invited for dinner so it felt somehow less aweful to be rude together. :)
The food was delicious and I NEED the recipe, actually I NEED the cookbook this recipe came from because apparantly every recipe in it is fantastic (though, fatal flaw: very few pictures--I choose recipes from recipe books by flipping through the pictures and choosing one that looks yummy). The company was fantastic. New and old friends together. The brother of our host was there and I have been friends with him for 11 years. Yikes! Am I that old? Yes, I am. And a new couple from our church was there, so someone I've known for a few weeks. I love dinners. I love having people here for dinner, I love going to friends' places for dinner; I love food and people so it is a fantastic way to do both at once. I've been thinking it would be fabulous to invite people over from our church once a month or so as a way to be together and build community rather than your traditional small groups, etc. But of course I've been 'thinking about it' for six months so I'm not the world's most organized person! Anyways I'm glad we were invited because I really like the people who were there and it is always wonderful to be in good company and eat good food. Fabulous!
Jenna and her husband (our hosts) always outnumbered us for kids until recently, and when we were there I was looking at some photos of their girls on the wall and asked, "Where's your photo of your other one?" Meaning, their fourth girl. Yeah, they don't have a fourth girl! So that was good for some laughs. I think I just always think of them as having more kids than us, so three photos on the wall was one too few! Hilarious. What a boob I can be.

Another good friend of mine and I went to Ikea on Monday morning. She has one kid but he is in school during the day so she graciously put up with me and all my three tazmanian devils: at one point Riley was in the kid seat of the Ikea cart with the seat belt on and my friend gasped and I looked over and he was STANDING UP IN THE SEAT with one wobbly hand holding onto the handle of the cart. Wow. Never a dull moment in public with Melissa and her devils. I've had some retrospect panic about that one. I try really hard not to 'What if?' and I'm remarkably good at not doing it the moment something happens (usually. White Rock lost child train incident notwithstanding), but a few hours afterwards the panic hits full force as I imagine all number of emergencies or tragedies playing themselves out before me. My job training doesn't help, as we are SUPPOSED to imagine all possible outcomes, hazards, safety risks, variations of disease, side effects of drugs or treatment, and preventative measures that are within our capabilities. For everyone we treat. Every time. But even there if you "What if?" too much it will hinder your ability to methodically treat a patient. I have recieved lots of positive feedback about my calm methodical style at work (and some negative feedback from impatient partners, because my style takes longer) because I rarely miss anything. I mean, sometimes I miss a symptom or a sign but I mean I rarely miss any of the many steps we are supposed to take in treating the many varied conditions and injuries we encounter in my job. Anyways, my ability to not "What if?" is a big part of that because I observe what is in front of me and deal with it, rather than wondering about seeking or preventing something which 'might' be there or 'might' develop but hasn't proven yet to be the case.
Anxiety is all about "What iffing" for me. So it is a bit of a sideswipe that I do it now, even in the moment instead of waiting a few hours and doing it afterwards. My hope is not to "What if" afterwards either. At least, not much. What if Riley had toppled out of the cart? What if my friend didn't look when she did? What if he had a head injury? What if he died? What would I do? How would I react? How much would I let Ikea's first aid attendant treat my child until the paramedics got there? Probably not much!! But what is the point of all this? I just get anxious.

Riley's standing aside the trip to Ikea was good, and I framed six of the photos our friends from gcphotography took of us in March and hung them on our living room wall. They look FANTASTIC and I'm so glad we did it. Our kids are so cute. The pictures are so great! And the frames from Ikea were the final touch. Awesome.

Monday night I had a date with another friend to go see a dance show in Ft Langley, but when she arrived to pick me up I was all in a frenzy and totally disorganized and Brent was late leaving work so I couldn't go with her after all. I felt AWEFUL! I mean, I've cancelled dates with friends before but not usually after they arrive on my doorstep to pick me up! Yech. But she was really great about it and called another friend to go with her at the last minute so it worked out okay. But you know, I'm usually a little more on the ball than THAT.

A final word: last night before the kids went to bed but after we ate supper I washed my kitchen floor. Why, might you ask, is this cause for mention? Because it has been over 9 months since I washed this floor. Brent has swiffered it a couple of times, halfheartedly, but nothing like what I do. I tackle the floor with hot water and a cloth on my hands and knees because it is the BEST way to get a CLEAN floor with no chemicals. I was tired of getting three day old banana stuck to my socks, and all manner of crumbs. There was oatmeal glued to the bottom of the high chair making the leg stick to the floor. There were rings of sticky stuff with dirt stuck in them. There was a dried river of some sort of juice running down the wall beside the dishwasher. And now, the floor is smooth and clean and there is no hint of banana! No hint of dried river! Ahhhhhhhhhhh.........I'm contemplating forcing everyone to eat in the livingroom for three or four days because I haven't cleaned the floor in there yet.........
ha, ha.

It's almost summertime, friends! Woohoo! I'm off to enjoy the sunshine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2 steps forward, 1 (BIG) step back

Yesterday i spent a good portion of my day mired in anxiety. on the one hand, this is really hard. on the other hand, this is how i spent most of my days from august to march, so it is good to have a reminder of the contrast. and good to have a reminder to keep up with my workbook from my treatment group~to stay on top of how I'm feeling.
Yech. All this death and tragedy obsession, it is not fun! For years though, I have felt like many other people around me live in denial of the possibility that tragedy and death may affect their lives, and felt it was positive that I had a more realistic awareness that life includes suffering, trials, and unwelcome events. I don't quite know, now, if that assessment is still true, or if it is possible to maintain this awareness without feeling a certain fatalistic dread? I hope it is, because I don't really know that I CAN live in denial. Undoing knowledge is kind of like trying to stop yourself from thinking about elephants. When you want to stop, you can't. My textbook from my PPD/A treatment group says this fatalistic dread is a core belief, and that

"Negative beliefs about the world are more common for people who have witnessed or experienced trauma...powerful negative experiences can help create negative core beliefs at any age."

What I realized when I read that was that I have witnessed an incredible amount of trauma in my 6 years as a paramedic, and it has changed the way I view the world. [which begs me to wonder; am I more sensitive? or are all paramedics changed in this way? are we all existing with a negative belief about the world, or are others better able to balance what they see in their work with what they experience in their individual lives? i dunno] I have a sense that tragedy and death are inevitable. Which, actually, they are. But I have MORE than a sense of inevitability: I have a sense of imminence about them. I have a great sense that most of the things I have seen WILL happen to me or my family, it is simply a matter of time. Which is not a statistical likelihood, at all! I also had a very deep sense of responsibility for the continued safety of my family. Like a giant kharmic bargaining scale: if I remember to correctly fasten my children into their car seats every time, they will not die. If I forget or a belt is loose or Riley's infant seat isn't snapped in all the way, that is when we will crash and one of them will surely die. If I keep vigilant watch over Riley when he sleeps, and never let him sleep with a blanket or a toy or on his tummy, he will stay alive. If I forget and leave a toy in his playpen, or if he turns onto his tummy and I don't notice or I leave him there, he will surely die. If I don't remember to pray for my husband's safety at work, he will surely be shot.

I don't think this line of thinking is actually any closer to reality than a fog of denial that tragedy or death could ever touch my life. The more I read, write, and think about it, the more I see that this is true. Death is not imminent. And in the end, it is not my responsibility to keep everyone alive by balancing a great spreadsheet of actions I must take to balance the universe and keep God happy enough to convince him to allow me to keep my children...
So there are two major battles for me here. (1) Realizing that death and tragedy are not imminent, and (2) relinquishing responsibility for the health and safety of my family to God. Which is hard, and kind of like disordered eating, in that one has to learn to live in a balanced state with the very thing that tosses you into disorder! Because I AM responsible for the safety of my kids, and it is good and healthy for me to pray for my husband. But in a qualitatively different way than I have been functioning for years. Because I have realized I've been struggling with anxiety for years, without knowing what was wrong. Deep anxiety regarding how I could logistically function with two children and an inappropriate sense of responsibility for Matthew's transitional process and future happiness is what tossed me so deep in dysfuntion when we adopted Matthew, and guilt over that dysfunction mired me for years afterwards. By Riley, the anxiety was at a low level. Once Riley was born this preexisting, lower level anxiety was highlighted and worsened by post pregnancy hormones. It is all jumbled together; work, past experiences, a predisposition, and post partum hormones. Grown up life is so much more jumbled and messy than I thought it was going to be!
At any rate I am thankful that a day like yesterday is no longer the norm. And I'm hoping to find a balance between denial of and obsession with traumatic events.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Shift in attitude

Growing up, I knew what I wanted as a mom. 4 girls. Boys were weird. Gross. Icky. Mysterious. Noisy. Dumb.

I just spent an hour in my backyard this afternoon on a blanket on the grass, with three of those gross icky mysterious boys wrestling and climbing all over me, and LOVED IT. I no longer find boys icky or mysterious. Or dumb. I still find them noisy, but I like it. I am fully converted. Totally in love. Bring on the boys!

They threw shoes at my bum. They farted and laughed. The littlest one pulled my hair and tried to steal my glasses, repeatedly. The middle one slid his hand up and down my calf to feel the prickles from not shaving my legs in several days (he LOVES that). The oldest one steamrolled me. They tickled me (funny how kid tickles NEVER actually tickle). They laughed when I tickled them, or kicked them with my feet, or tossed them in the air. They threw grass in my hair. They ate candy. It was fun. If we do have a fourth, I don't think I'll even wish either way (though I asked Ayden today and he indicated that he would ONLY like another baby IF we have a girl). Boys are awesome!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Gorgeous week

I have been taking pix all week, but our computer is full and will crash if I download any more pictures onto it, so you can't see any. We have had a wicked awesome week! Tons of park fun, water park fun (surprisingly, the water was on when we walked there yesterday!), picnic fun, birthday party fun, and etc. We have also been spending a fair amount of time in our yard. Wishing for a bigger one!!! Oh well, soon enough.

And no, the cop whose PC was shot yesterday in Surrey wasn't my husband. Thank GOD. This whole being a cop's wife thing is really not good for my anxiety disorder :p

I'll update you more soon! We're just having so much fun it's hard to keep up with the blogging.

Plus I really want to address the momma guilt thing...

will do.....

Jumping up and down!!!!!!!!

We went to Bennett (mini nerd)'s third birthday today, and saw an old friend. I was surprised and happy to hear that she's 4 months pregnant! So exciting! And I do mean 'hear,' because she doesn't LOOK pregnant--jeepers. So jealous. Anyways, I was trying to be very subtle in asking about her birth plans, you know, 'So, are you planning on having your doctor attend your birth, or a midwife?' And she told me she is on the list for a midwife and will hear back if they accept her as a client this Tuesday. Awesome! I told her I'm a doula and offered to do doula care for her for free, since I'm not certified yet and because she's a friend, and she seemed very excited about that prospect! She asked about the difference between a midwife and a doula (common question: short answer, about 4 years of school, ha ha...long answer, a midwife is for prenatal, post natal, and labour/delivery medical support, and a doula is emotional support (pre/post/during, but especially during); she also asked about the difference between a midwife attended and a physician attended birth, and could you have both? She seemed relieved when I said that a midwife attends unless complications arise, and then a client is referred to a doctor. So great to be spreading the word about what doulas and midwives do, and how great they are. Anyways, she was excited about the idea of having me as a doula so I AM IN JUMPING UP AND DOWN EXCITED MODE!!!!!!!!!!! Yippee! She seemed very open to the idea of doula care and excited to have me, so I'll have to get in touch with her in the next couple of days to finalize whether that will be her final decision. I'm a real live doula with a real live (almost) client!

Also, another friend of mine who is 32 wks pregnant (hi friend!) has been having some contractions recently and as a backup, possible, covering-all-your bases type of plan has asked me to come to the hospital with her if she goes into labour in the next 2 weeks. I would be support for her in helping advocate for as natural a birth as possible, and as baby friendly a transition as is possible for a premature baby of that gestational age. For that one, we're praying I WON'T be needed! [insert prayers here, please]

I love birth. I love transitions. I love women. I love babies. I love being part of a movement of people advocating for change in birth practices to a more baby and mom friendly, evidence based, empowering process.

Hurrah for doulas!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

OWN IT!!!!

I found a copy of The Business of Being Born at our local Blockbuster in the previously viewed DVDs for sale section!!!! I'm so pumped!!!!!!! It was $6.99 MINUS 30% because of a sale they were having, so for a skoukum deal I got an AWESOME resource I can use for years to come as a doula, midwife, friend, and general natural childbirth advocate. I already loaned it to a friend, the same day I bought it. Hooray! I also want to read Ricki Lake's book, Your Best Birth. Looking good, people.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Benefits of cosleeping article

I know I've been wanting to post about cosleeping for awhile now, but haven't gotten around to it. I still plan to! But in the meantime, Dr Sears has written a good article on some of the benefits of cosleeping.

The physiological effects of sleep-sharing are finally being studied in sleep laboratories that are set up to mimic, as much as possible, the home bedroom. Over the past few years, nearly a million dollars of government research money has been devoted to sleep-sharing research. These studies have all been done on mothers and infants ranging from two to five months in age. Here are the preliminary findings based on mother-infant pairs studied in the sleep-sharing arrangement versus the solitary-sleeping arrangement (Elias 1986, McKenna 1993, Fleming 1994; Mosko 1994):

1. Sleep-sharing pairs showed more synchronous arousals than when sleeping separately. When one member of the pair stirred, coughed, or changed sleeping stages, the other member also changed, often without awakening.

2. Each member of the pair tended to often, but not always, be in the same stage of sleep for longer periods if they slept together.

3. Sleep-sharing babies spent less time in each cycle of deep sleep. Lest mothers worry they will get less deep sleep; preliminary studies showed that sleep-sharing mothers didn't get less total deep sleep.

4. Sleep-sharing infants aroused more often and spent more time breastfeeding than solitary sleepers, yet the sleep-sharing mothers did not report awakening more frequently.

5. Sleep-sharing infants tended to sleep more often on their backs or sides and less often on their tummies, a factor that could itself lower the SIDS risk.

6. A lot of mutual touch and interaction occurs between the sleep-sharers. What one does affects the nighttime behavior of the other.

Even though these studies are being conducted in sleep laboratories instead of the natural home environment, it's likely that within a few years enough mother-infant pairs will be studied to scientifically validate what insightful mothers have long known: something good and healthful occurs when mothers and babies share sleep


There is no right or wrong place for baby to sleep. Wherever all family members sleep the best is the right arrangement for you. Remember, over half the world's population sleeps with their baby, and more and more parents in the U.S. are sharing sleep with their little one. Here's why:

1. Babies sleep better
Sleepsharing babies usually go to sleep and stay asleep better. Being parented to sleep at the breast of mother or in the arms of father creates a healthy go-to-sleep attitude. Baby learns that going to sleep is a pleasant state to enter (one of our goals of nighttime parenting).
Babies stay asleep better. Put yourself in the sleep pattern of baby. As baby passes from deep sleep into light sleep, he enters a vulnerable period for nightwaking, a transition state that may occur as often as every hour and from which it is difficult for baby to resettle on his own into a deep sleep. You are a familiar attachment person whom baby can touch, smell, and hear. Your presence conveys an "It's OK to go back to sleep" message. Feeling no worry, baby peacefully drifts through this vulnerable period of nightwaking and reenters deep sleep. If baby does awaken, she is sometimes able to resettle herself because you are right there. A familiar touch, perhaps a few minutes' feed, and you comfort baby back into deep sleep without either member of the sleep-sharing pair fully awakening.

Many babies need help going back to sleep because of a developmental quirk called object or person permanence. When something or someone is out of sight, it is out of mind. Most babies less than a year old do not have the ability to think of mother as existing somewhere else. When babies awaken alone in a crib, they become frightened and often unable to resettle back into deep sleep. Because of this separation anxiety, they learn that sleep is a fearful state to remain in (not one of our goals of nighttime parenting).

2. Mothers sleep better
Many mothers and infants are able to achieve nighttime harmony: babies and mothers get their sleep cycles in sync with one another.
Martha notes: "I would automatically awaken seconds before my baby would. When the baby started to squirm, I would lay on a comforting hand and she would drift back to sleep. Sometimes I did this automatically and I didn't even wake up."
Contrast sleepsharing with the crib and nursery scene. The separate sleeper awakens – alone and behind bars. He is out of touch. He first squirms and whimpers. Still out of touch. Separation anxiety sets in, baby becomes scared, and the cry escalates into an all-out wail or plea for help. This piercing cry awakens even the most long distance mother, who jumps up (sometimes out of the state of deep sleep, which is what leads to most nighttime exhaustion), and staggers reluctantly down the hall. By the time mother reaches the baby, baby is wide awake and upset, mother is wide awake and upset, and the comforting that follows becomes a reluctant duty rather than an automatic nurturant response. It takes longer to resettle an upset solo sleeper than it does a half-asleep baby who is sleeping within arm's reach of mother. Once baby does fall asleep, mother is still wide-awake and too upset to resettle easily. If, however, the baby is sleeping next to mother and they have their sleep cycles in sync, most mothers and babies can quickly resettle without either member of the sleepsharing pair fully awakening. Being awakened suddenly and completely from a state of deep sleep to attend to a hungry or frightened baby is what leads to sleep-deprived parents and fearful babies.

3. Breastfeeding is easier
Most veteran breastfeeding mothers have, for survival, learned that sharing sleep makes breastfeeding easier. Breastfeeding mothers find it easier than bottlefeeding mothers to get their sleep cycles in sync with their babies. They often wake up just before the babies awaken for a feeding. By being there and anticipating the feeding, mother can breastfeed baby back to a deep sleep before baby (and often mother) fully awakens.
A mother who had achieved nighttime-nursing harmony with her baby shared the following story with us:
"About thirty seconds before my baby wakes up for a feeding, my sleep seems to lighten and I almost wake up. By being able to anticipate his feeding, I usually can start breastfeeding him just as he begins to squirm and reach for the nipple. Getting him to suck immediately keeps him from fully waking up, and then we both drift back into a deep sleep right after feeding."

Mothers who experience daytime breastfeeding difficulties report that breastfeeding becomes easier when they sleep next to their babies at night and lie down with baby and nap nurse during the day. We believe baby senses that mother is more relaxed, and her milk-producing hormones work better when she is relaxed or sleeping.

4. It's contemporary parenting
Sleepsharing is even more relevant in today's busy lifestyles. As more and more mothers, out of necessity, are separated from their baby during the day, sleeping with their baby at night allows them to reconnect and make up for missed touch time during the day. As a nighttime perk, the relaxing hormones that are produced in response to baby nursing relax a mother and help her wind down from the tension of a busy day's work.

5. Babies thrive better
Over the past thirty years of observing sleepsharing families in our pediatric practice, we have noticed one medical benefit that stands out; these babies thrive . "Thriving" means not only getting bigger, but also growing to your full potential, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Perhaps it's the extra touch that stimulates development, or perhaps the extra feedings (yes, sleepsharing infants breastfeed more often than solo sleepers).

6. Parents and infants become more connected
Remember that becoming connected is the basis of parenting, and one of your early goals of parenting. In our office, we keep a file entitled "Kids Who Turned Out Well, What Their Parents Did." We have noticed that infants who sleep with their parents (some or all of the time during those early formative years) not only thrive better, but infants and parents are more connected.

7. Reduces the risk of SIDS
New research is showing what parents the world over have long suspected: infants who sleep safely nestled next to parents are less likely to succumb to the tragedy of SIDS. Yet, because SIDS is so rare (.5 to 1 case per 1,000 infants), this worry should not be a reason to sleep with your baby. (For in depth information on the science of sleepsharing and the experiments showing how sleep benefits a baby's nighttime physiology. (See SIDS)
Co-sleeping does not always work and some parents simply do not want to sleep with their baby. Sleepsharing is an optional attachment tool. You are not bad parents if you don't sleep with your baby. Try it. If it's working and you enjoy it, continue. If not, try other sleeping arrangements (an alternative is the sidecar arrangement: place a crib or co-sleeper adjacent to your bed).

New parents often worry that their child will get so used to sleeping with them that he may never want to leave their bed. Yes, if you're used to sleeping first-class, you are reluctant to be downgraded. Like weaning from the breast, infants do wean from your bed (usually sometime around two years of age). Keep in mind that sleepsharing may be the arrangement that is designed for the safety and security of babies. The time in your arms, at your breast, and in your bed is a very short time in the total life of your child, yet the memories of love and availability last a lifetime

Mom Guilt

Parenting comes with a heavy dose of guilt. I have often felt guilty about the fact that I don't homeschool my children, because it is such a wonderful way to live out attachment parenting, and statistically is superior to traditional schooling. I have come to peace with my final decision, but it was a difficult struggle for awhile, and I still feel anxious with my friends who do homeschool; will they judge me? Do they understand that I was thoughtful about my decision to send my kids to public school? Do they think I can't possibly be an attachment parent and NOT homeschool my kids?

There are myriad ways of interpreting the term Attachment Parenting, and many, many ways to act upon it. Parents who don't breastfeed, cosleep, babywear, stay at home full time, the issue of spanking, etc, etc. I fear sometimes we get too dogmatic in our quest for the best way to raise our babies to be ethical, caring, responsible adults. There is no one BEST way to raise our children, but rather many GOOD ways, provided there is a focus on attachment fostering behavior, and making thoughtful, intentional parenting choices.

Here is a really good article on this subject, of the dangers of dogma. I would copy and paste the article, but I see that has reprinted the article with permission from the author, which I don't have. So instead I will link it. It is definitely a great article and helps remind us that AP is a style, not a specific method.

Since you asked

How did Brent know the car parked across the street was stolen?
(a) he has spidey senses. you get those when you graduate from police school.
(b) it was a car we have never seen before.
(c) it was parked in a no parking zone.
(d) upon observant inspection, the driver's side lock was popped out slightly.
and that, folks, is all it takes, when you are a seasoned cop such as my husband (he is the senior officer on duty in his district sometimes these days...didn't that happen fast??).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dairy farm

Matthew's preschool had a field trip on Wednesday, to a dairy farm not too far from his school. I don't generally enjoy field trips; I'm glad they exist and my kids love them, but that doesn't mean I like to go along. In preschool, the parents are always expected to go along. I left Riley sleeping next to Brent on our bed, and off we went. But I wound up having a great time! It was a smaller, family owned dairy farm, with just 50 cows and 120 acres. The farmers were a husband and wife team; up at 5 a.m. every morning to milk their cows, and back again at 5 p.m. every evening to milk them again. They took us in the milking pen and pulled out the electric milkers and I couldn't help myself; "Hey, I have one of those!" The farmer laughed (along with all the other parents, who are either in or just out of the breast pump stage themselves), and said "Well, I hope it is a little less powerful than this one!" Farmer Smid fielded questions from the kids "What are those buttons for?" "What if a cow poops while you are milking him?" or, my favourite, "What do you eat for breakfast?" as if farmers are an alien breed who eat purple rocks with chocolate sauce for breakfast. And Farmer Smid fielded questions from us parents, "What do you do if a cow is sick?" "How long are they quarantined after a round of antibiotics?" "Do you buy your milk from a store or drink it raw from your own cows?" (they drink it raw) "How long is a dairy cow productive for?", or (and I try really hard not to judge moms who ask questions like these on a field trip), "Why do you spell your last name SMID?" Seriously? She had some other gems: "Did you grow up wanting to be a dairy farmer?" "What do your children think of dairy farming?" "Do you want your children to become dairy farmers?" "Do you know a Smid family in Birkholm? Because I have met a family with your same last name who lives in Birkholm, Germany." OMG. The whole of life is not about poking your nose in everyone else's family business, and no, just because their ancestors came from Europe does not mean they know or are related to every Smid in Germany. Jeepers.
Anyways, we saw the milking pen and the barn where the cows sleep and the 'honey pit' and the calves in their pens. We went on a hayride and drank chocolate milk (pasteurized) and met some momma cows. I learned a lot, and so did Matthew, but mostly I just really loved being on a farm. A nice, family sized farm with some down to earth, industrious people and some animals and some really beautiful property. I was made for farming life, I think. It doesn't suit me entirely to live in a townhouse squished so close to my neighbors. But we do what we can and I'm grateful for my townhouse, which has some great positives, including being an ecological way to live, and I'm definitely not complaining. It is just really amazing to be on a farm again.
It was also interesting to learn about Canadian dairy farming and to discuss organic vs inorganic vs raw milk vs plastic jugs vs glass jugs with a real dairy farmer and some pretty intelligent preschool parents. It was pretty neat. In the end I think I can still say that organic dairy is healthier, raw milk has some advantages but is still considered unhealthy enough to be illegal to sell in Canada, and that non organic dairy is far less expensive than organic but is still pretty healthy. The dairy industry is pretty strictly regulated as far as medications; any day a farm's milk tank can be surprise tested and if any trace of antibiotics is found in the 4000 litre tank, the tank is discarded and the farmer fined $15,000. A second offense is double. A third, and the Canadian FDA shuts down the farm. Antibiotics are used reasonably and not indiscriminately, because the milk from that cow must be fed to the calves or discarded and cannot be sold, and that cow must be quarantined and its milk discarded for a set period of time after the antibiotics are finished. No growth hormone is used (Farmer Smid indicated that GH is used for beef cattle while they are growing, rather than for dairy cattle, who don't need to be big to be good milk producers). Cows are free run in pastures for a certain number of hours in a day and are grain and grass fed, and are inseminated every year to two years. They are not milked during the last weeks of pregnancy.

A cow's gestation is 9 months. Her cycle is approximately 21 days. Mr Smid said, "Cows and women are a lot alike. But I try not to say that when my wife is around."

I LOVED this field trip. I would love to someday own a farm. Though probably not a dairy farm, because I know you are beholden to the milking of those cows twice a day, every day, 365 days a year, year upon year without end. I grew up on a farm, and I definitely miss it, so it was wonderful to visit one and learn all about milk.
Also: you should see some of the saggy boobs on those lady cows. Makes me and my FF/GG slingers look like small potatoes.

How to know you are married to a cop

The other day, Brent was sleeping off a night shift. So I got up, fed the kids, fussed around for a bit, got the kids ready for school, and left the house. As we were leaving, I noticed a pretty blue car parked across the street. "Hm," I thought, "what a pretty blue car! Kind of well loved. It has some scratches on the roof. Someone really should take care of that, because scratches like that can get rusty, especially in our rainy climate." And off we go to school.

My husband wakes up a few hours later, looks out the front window, grunts, and calls the police to report an abandoned stolen vehicle parked across the street from his house. The police checked the license plate and yes, it was stolen; thank you, sir, for calling it in, and a tow truck will be by later to pick it up.

I really hope they take care of those scratches, before they get rusty.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Further thoughts on unassisted childbirth

After thinking heftily about my posts regarding UC, and formulating her own comments, my friend Dana posted this excellent response. She is a friend, fellow natural childbirth advocate, and childbirth educator who helped me to find many of the resources I needed to have an empowering, informed birth last summer. This girl knows her stuff.
p.s. she calls me Mona. Long story.

I just HAVE to quote Dana here, even though this paragraph is in the link above:

"The more I learn about childbirth, the stronger my feelings that God has designed us women beautifully for birthing our babies. Given education, support and safe environment, I believe that the majority of women have the capacity to safely give birth vaginally, joyfully, and to come away feeling strong and empowered. It grieves me that so many women are left believing that their bodies are broken. That some have outright traumatic experiences. Unnecessarily."

I absolutely agree.
For example: myself. When I was pregnant with Ayden I [wasn't ready] didn't do much research. I [was in denial] pretty much didn't do anything regarding pregnancy health for the first four months, not even taking prenatal vitamins, because I couldn't handle the fact that I was pregnant. I pretty much trusted my doctor implicitly to inform me of anything I might need to know. And I ignored [until late in the game] the fact that I was going to have to push this baby OUT.
My doctor is a good one, but, like the vast majority of general physicians in Canada, had approximately 6 weeks of obstetrical training in medical school, focusing solely on obstetrical pathology (what can go wrong). Also like the vast majority of general physicians in Canada, she limits her ongoing medical education mainly to pharmaceutical reps and conferences sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical companies are not evil, but they DO have a vested interest in physicians prescribing their drugs, and in physicians educating their patients towards their products (the brand of formula a patient uses usually coincides with the brand that provided a free can or bottle in the hospital, or the brand a physician recommends based on the formula company's representative educating that physician on its benefits). Anyways, my doctor, though she watched me gain weight like a balloon being filled with cement, knew there was some gestational diabetes in my family, and knew that I had several other risk factors for GD, and knew that gestational diabetes testing is available, did not inform me of the existance of Gestational Diabetes testing nor recommend I get it. I didn't know the test existed until I was pregnant with Riley. When I was 36 weeks pregnant with Ayden I had some bleeding so I went to the hospital and the doctor there, after palpating my abdomen, told me two things. (1) I had too much amniotic fluid, and (2) my baby was breech.
In my reading since Riley was born I have discovered that (a) an overabundance of amniotic fluid (polyhydramnia) is associated with Gestational Diabetes. And, (b) polyhydramnia is associated with fetal malpresentation (breech babies).
Later that week I went in for my regular prenatal appointment with my doctor and she ordered an ultrasound to confirm Ayden's breech presentation, and then referred me to an obstetrician. That OB booked me at the hospital for an external version, where they try to turn the baby so it can be delivered head first, the safest presentation (especially for a first time mom who is ridiculously out of shape and who has a big baby in her uterus). The EV didn't work, and so we scheduled a cesarean for the following week. Largely based on a then recently published large research study of best fetal outcomes in vaginal vs. cesarean births, the fact that it was my first baby, the fact that he was large (which is not a disqualifier on its own; we have an obsessive fear of large babies that is unfounded, in my opinion, but in conjunction with the other factors was something I considered), and the fact that I was in really poor physical shape.
Later, in my OB's office, she asked me if I remembered one last big somersault when I was pregnant with Ayden? And I did. I had been leaning back in my chair at a work related class, 3/4 reclined, when it suddenly felt like there was an earthquake in my abdomen. I slammed my chair down and yelped, which made all my male coworkers freak out. I later learned that 3/4 reclined is actually not a recommended position for women to be in during the last stage of pregnancy, as it ecourages fetal malpresentation (as well as compressing maternal veins and reducing oxygen supply to mom and baby).
Based on the fact that I very likely HAD Gestational Diabetes with Ayden's pregnancy but wasn't tested, diagnosed, or treated, and based on the fact that I was not informed that 3/4 reclined is not an optimal position to sit in and therefore sat in, I wound up with a baby in a non optimal birthing position.

In this case, *education* was the key missing component. Like Dana says, "Given education, support and safe environment, I believe that the majority of women have the capacity to safely give birth vaginally, joyfully, and to come away feeling strong and empowered." I didn't know about GD or its management, so I ate horribly, didn't exercise at all, and snarfed down bags and bags of candy. And, near the end, I didn't know about positions which encourage optimal positioning of baby, so I hung out in the 3/4 reclined position a lot. Could I have done more to educate myself, instead of relying on my doctor? Absolutely. I think my lack of readiness for the pregnancy actually was the greatest factor in my ignorance. But with a little more support and proactiveness on my doctor's part and a little more seeking out on my part, I could have avoided a surgical birth with Ayden by controlling my GD and thus the polyhydramnia, and being mindful of my body's posture and position during the last months of my pregnancy.
But it is what it is, and now I know more, and that is how I have been able to have a more empowering experience in a later pregnancy.

I believe very strongly that pregnancy and birth have been circumvented by our culture and turned into "dangerous medical conditions," when in actual fact pregnancy and birth are normal, natural, physiological events. Rather than dangerous medical events, they are necessary bodily functions. Many of us who have had cesarean births are given the impression by the medical staff that we were 'saved,' or our babies were 'saved,' when in reality a cesarean was recommended as less risky. I don't think Ayden would certainly or even likely have died if I had given birth to him vaginally; rather I think that a vaginal breech birth in my particular situation would have carried a higher risk of complications, including a small risk of death. See the difference? Risk does not equate certain death, nor salvation on the part of the medical community. But I was definitely given the impression that a cesarean was 'saving' my baby. It's a cultural thing.

Of course, some cesareans DO save babies who are in trouble! Or some moms who are in trouble. Of course this is true. But I think it important to point out our culture's belief regarding birth as a dangerous event that women are often incapable of doing, and that many womens' bodies are broken or incompetent. And it is important to speak the opposite, whenever possible.
It IS possible to have a positive, empowering birth experience. It is possible to give birth naturally and have that be safe. And even for those of us for whom that is not true once, it can be true the next time.

So powerful.
So necessary!
So good to help us move forward in time, evaluating our past experiences knowing we made the best decisions we knew to make at the time, and feeling a measure of peace about that.
I also think it is paramount that, as Dana touches on, we not allow guilt any place in this equation. We do the best we can. And tomorrow, if we learn more, we do better. Such is life.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Yesterday I did nap manipulation again, and voila; sleeping baby from 8:30 pm to 8:00 am (with feeds). No more nighttime playing. Hurrah! Nap manipulation consists of adding up the total hours Riley sleeps in 24 hours, subtracting the amount of time I would like him to sleep at night (10 to 11 hours...of course 12 would be better and more normal, but both Ayden and Riley sleep less than your average baby) and allowing him the difference for his naps.
Translation: because I want him to sleep 11 hours at night, and he usually sleeps a total of 13 hours in 24, I only let him sleep for 2 hours during the day. I still put him to sleep when he is tired in the day, but I wake him up after one hour. His second naptime he gets sleepy again, and again I wake him up after one hour.

I'm also thinking about setting up the crib we own (but haven't used yet) in Ayden and Matthew's bedroom and putting Riley to sleep in there for the first portion of the night. Our current system often results in us waking Riley up when we get ready for bed because we're moving around and whispering and turning the bathroom light on and off. I would leave the playpen in our room for naps, and Riley sleeps with us for a good portion of the night, which wouldn't change. The problem is that we have an extra toddler bed with nowhere to put it (actually we have 2 toddler beds, but one can be taken apart and stored in a closet and the other cannot, and is now in Ayden and Matthew's room as an 'extra' for sleepovers and as a general junk pile collector since they don't have many sleepovers!).

I realized yesterday that now that Riley is 9 months old, he has been a part of my body and a part of my life for a year and a half now. It is difficult for me to imagine what life was life before we had him, and hard for me to imagine how I filled my days?!!?! Which makes me laugh, because of course my days were full and busy with 2 rambunctious boys, plus a job and a garden and friends and extended family and reading and running...
But it really is so hard to imagine life without Riley in it, and I think rather than remembering a dearth of activity in my life before him, I am actually feeling the absence of his sparkle and personality, and the joy and frustration and energy he makes me feel. What a blessing. All my boys are. I am very, very fortunate. Thank you, Universe. Thank you, post partum anxiety and depression group. Thank you, sunshine. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

sleep update update

Yesterday I shortened both Riley's naps to less than an hour each. Last night he went to bed at 8:20, and stayed asleep (breastfeeding aside) til 8 in the morning. At 3 a.m. he woke up and it looked a bit sketchy: he was restless and not really hungry, and his sparkly eyes were staring at me wide open in the dark beside me in the bed...but after about five minutes of tossing and turning he went back to sleep. YES.
We'll see if this was a fluke, or a solution.

Friday, May 15, 2009

INTRODUCING.....MY BOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I LOVE THIS THING!!!!!!! We got it on Craigslist for $380 with the rain cover included, and it was so little used by the previous owner that the wheels still had the little knobs on them!!!!!! She could have sold this for $500 easy! But she didn't know that!!!! We snapped it up. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE my BOB!! It turns so easily! It pushes so easily! Its wheels are so big and durable! It holds up to 70 lbs so even Ayden can ride in it and it STILL pushes easily! WOOOOOHOOOOO! For a family that walks as often as we do, this was an excellent investment.

(and yes, we did pay back the people we owed. but no, i did not yet sell my old collection of strollers--but I plan to! This skoukum deal came up and we couldn't let it pass us by!!)

Riley hates all strollers, so he is not so keen on it as I, but he only protests until we get going, and then he is fine. It's the confinement of seat belts that he doesn't like. You can see him lounging in the second pic. So cute.

WAHHHHHHHH!!! I'm so excited about this stroller, it's ridiculous. I've already run with it. It runs LIKE A DREAM.
Worth every penny.

Sleep update

Last night Riley went to sleep at 8. Woke up at 9:30. Stayed up til midnight. Slept til 8 (with some breastfeeding intermittent in there...I hardly count those because neither of us really wakes up).


At least he slept in the after-midnight phase of the night, which is really the more crucial part. But WHAT is UP with the no-free-time-without-kids? That's my sanity keeper, the hours after their bedtime and before our bedtime.

Today I seriously manipulated some naps, in an effort to control what goes on in his bed at night.

Here's hoping that it works!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

9 Months

Riley is nine months old today!
He climbs
crawls FAST
pulls off his socks and sucks on them
feeds himself
tries to clap his hands but mostly misses
tries to find objects that are hidden behind things
plays pass with a ball
knows his name!
makes a particular noise to get his brothers' attention
still has 2 teeth
is comfortable going to sleep with daddy or mommy
flings unwanted toys, food, or soothers over his head and behind him

eating grass and rocks
eating lego
eating fluff
eating anything
spicy foods, including curries and peppers
french onion soup
his brothers
deep voices
other babies
our cat
the phone
the remote
wind in his face
sucking his toes

the stroller
the carseat
being left behind
having lego removed from his mouth
having anything put in his mouth, like vitamin D drops, tylenol, or spoonfuls of food
diaper changes
getting dressed

Riley is getting more opinionated these days! And infinitely more interactive and fun. Gone are the days of once a week poonamis. Since eating solids on a regular basis he poops every day, but they are not so explosive. He straightarms anyone he doesn't particularly want to be held by, and rolls so quickly and forcefully that he has fallen off my bed 3 times and the change table twice in the last week alone. Like a cat, he always lands on all 4s. He is a Rambo boy. He slaps, pinches, bites, scratches, kicks, and throws things. He is a VERY physical kid and I percieve we will have our hands full teaching him conflict management and social sensitivity!!! He bites me while breastfeeding several times a day. When I reprimand him in a stern voice he laughs. He may have girly eyes, but this one is ALL BOY. His favourite way to let me know he is happy to see me is to slap me with two hands excitedly! But he's a sweetheart and he means well.

Mr Magoo

Sleep, sleep, baby, sleep

[sleep, sleep, baby, sleep is a Reside family lullaby].

Okay so Riley has a new habit. A frickin fantastic new habit. He wakes up in the middle of the night for a few hours to play.

Last night, he fell asleep at 8 pm. Woke up at 9:30 to breastfeed, then fell asleep (albiet restlessly). Woke up at 2:30, played a bit, breastfed a bit, played some more, tried to crawl off my bed, wouldn't play in his own bed, bit my breast, got wedged between my mattress and the headboard, and finally fell asleep at 4:15. Then he woke up for the day around 6:30.

Oh yes, and Brent was on nights, so no backup.

Anyone want a baby? I'll ship him to you free of charge. No refunds or exchanges. All sales final.

Did I mention that this is the third time this week that he has done this?

And that in the daytime he's cranky as SHIT?


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SIDS. And anxiety. And some milk.

I read an interesting, helpful suggestion in one of my Today's Parent magazine issues, which I appreciate because it is very breastfeeding friendly and generally quite accurate wrt breastfeeding advice and information. Following this trend, many of the articles are attachment focused, if not specifically associated with the term Attachment Parenting. The interesting and helpful suggestion I read was that a recent research study found that infants who sleep with a fan on in their sleeping area have a 72% decreased risk of SIDS. Disclaimer: this is ONE study, which will now need to be replicated and hashed out and gone over with a fine toothed comb. But I figure, 72% is a pretty good reduction rate. It seems to fit general theories as to one of the contributing factors in SIDS, namely a lack of adequate oxygen levels in the air around an infant's face and an increase in the amount of exhaled, lower oxygen saturated air re-breathed by the infant. A fan would help move air around and decrease the chances of less oxygen rich air being rebreathed by the infant. But the best characteristic of the suggestion to have a fan in the area an infant sleeps is that it really doesn't hurt anyone, and it just may help. So I thought I'd pass it along.

Further to my post about my intolerance of noise, I find the noise of a fan in my bedroom to be difficult to ignore. But I'm managing to work out an angle and a proximity and an allowable turn off time (if it wakes me up after 6 a.m. I turn it off because that last hour or two of sleep is more valuable to me than my baby's life. Joking, obviously. But we must be flexible. And one of my anxiety triggers is the possibility of SIDS so I have a healthy need to challenge my crazy lady fears every once in awhile.)

Another one of my anxiety triggers is the potential of my milk supply disappearing. If you know me well you will be laughing right now, because this fear is SO ridiculous. I'm a superproducer. I have to be careful not to make TOO MUCH milk, because it causes all manner of problems for boobs and babies. I have been known to walk around town unaware of (or simply unable to fix) the fact that I have wet milk circles on my shirt right over my nipple area. Once it dries, there is still a water mark. BTW. In case you were ever wondering if you could simply 'give it time to dry.' Nuh-uh. With Ayden, I pumped 100s of mLs of extra milk and froze it and donated it to the BC Women's milk bank (modern day wet nurse, remember?). Now, I pump 100s of mLs of extra milk and sneak it into my adopted son's cow's milk at breakfasts or suppers or snacks~once or twice a day. My letdown is so forceful it hurts, and it shoots out across the room. You get the point. My fear surrounding my milk supply is utterly ridiculous.

My Breastfeeding Education Day at Douglas College with my mom in early March was hugely helpful in reducing this fear, because I learned that, while stimulation of the nipple stimulates letdown, barometric pressure receptors in the breast are what stimulate milk production. I'd been stressing for months over accurately remembering which breast I fed on last time, because if I feed on the same breast twice too many times in a row my other breast won't get stimulated, and this led to some too frequent breast switching in hopes that I could 'trick' my breasts into making lots of milk. Then I went to this education day and learned that there's no tricking my breasts. They make as much as my baby asks for, period. Once I learned this I trusted my body a bit more and listened to my fear a LOT less.

But my fear is gearing up again, with regards to my milk. I think because I'm gearing up to go back to work, and because I'm approaching the point at which my milk dried up with Ayden (14 months~I didn't say approaching it SOON, just, cause for a month of celebration and two years of mourning. Also because Riley hasn't been drinking 'enough' lately...but then I talked to my mom about it and she said, "What you are describing sounds exactly like older baby breastfeeding behaviour. How many times does he breastfeed in a day?" And I counted. He breastfeeds 7 or 8 times in each 24 hour period. And both my mom and I laughed. That's plenty! No need to worrywart. Which has helped me relax, which has reduced the number of times I have been whipping out my breast and trying to interest him in feeding (every 2 hours is no longer necessary for a 9 month old, apparantly!! Lol!!), and have instead returned to my firmly held belief in FOLLOWING YOUR BABY, listening to his cues, and determined that he likes to breastfeed about every 4 hours these days. He can go 5 hours, and has gone as long as 7 hours between feeds before (his choice), though he will then make up for it later.
The crazy lady has left the building. At least for today.

In furtherance to my back to work news, I dropped by the EI office today and learned that they are set up to pay me until mid August, since my early start to mat leave was deemed medical leave by EI, and the idea is that moms who are unable to work the last weeks of pregnancy should not have to sacrifice any weeks at the end of their year of maternity leave. Here I was thinking I'd have to return to work the end of June, and that EI payments would have stopped last week so the months of May and June would be financially tight. Hello! Great news! The government of Canada has deemed me eligible to receive maternity benefits until August, so I don't have to return to work in June. My employer is a slightly different story, but if I decide to return in August instead of June I will lose 2 months of seniority but not much else. My seniority has capped out its usefulness for me at this point, particularly if I'm thinking of leaving within the next 5 years or so. So, happily relinquishing two months' worth of seniority, I have decided not to return to Chilliwack Ambulance Station until August. I am SO down with this plan. I love my baby. I am not ready to leave him behind. Thank heaven for maternity benefits, is all I can say.

that's it for your daily dose of crazy.

The Laundry Thing

So a few weeks ago my friend Dana mentioned a workable laundry system she has recently started at her house, with good reviews. I decided to give it a shot, because I have been living in chronic loathing of my laundry situation for years. Things have been particularly bad since Riley was born: pretty much it was unusual for any of the kids or my husband to have clean underwear in their drawers: instead, said laundry was either (a) in the massive pile of dirty laundry in the laundry room, or (b) in the massive pile of clean laundry in the short hallway outside the laundry room. Pile (b) was affectionately named "Mt. Laundry" and was in a constant state of silently nagging me to fold it, and constantly piling up to shoulder height and encroaching upon 3/4 the width of the hallway. It got so that the kids would look in Mt. Laundry FIRST for clean underwear, and then check their drawers.
So when Dana posted describing this laundry system I JUMPED at the chance to try something, anything that might make a dent in my nemesis, Mt. L.
The system is based on pre sorting. I went to IKEA and bought two hampers that have two sections each, for a total of four separate containers. Lights, darks, whites, and an extra (which has turned out to be perfect for towels). We taught the boys how to sort their clothes after removing them, and voila, presorted laundry. Then, each day I do ONE load of laundry~whichever colour is fullest. Plus, each day I try to fold that load of washed laundry. It seems deceptively simple, but it works remarkably well! The first few days I did two loads, to catch up, but since then my only extra loads have been the diaper covers, (which were previously hard pressed to find a way to squeeze into the constant overcrowded que for the washing machine), and my bras (of which I only have two because my freakishly large boobs need a specialty, $100 bra, and which need to be washed after only one or two wears so every other day). It's not the washing that was holding me up before, per se. It was the sorting and the folding. If presorted, laundry seems more manageable and it is easy to see at a glance what colour needs washing the most, and if done one load per day, it is easy to fold and put away~a 15 minute job instead of a 60 minute job. An imperative reduction.
And for a week now, my hallway has been pretty much empty of clean laundry. And my laundry room floor has been free of clothing (I used to sort and leave the sorted dirties in piles on the floor, making access to the machines an exercise in WII fit mountain climbing). YEAH!

Props to Daen for the skoukum idea.
Props to Jesus for a tidy hallway and a easier time for momma.
It really only takes simple things to make me happy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I should add that Unassisted Childbirth does not mean that women labour and deliver entirely alone in all cases. I know of two women who delivered their first babies totally alone without their husbands or anyone else there for support, BY CHOICE~but I believe this is not a typical UC delivery. Most UC birth stories I have heard include the presence of non medical support people that the woman knows and trusts implicitly, including a husband, doula, and possibly some other family members. This wasn't clear in my previous discussion of Unassisted Childbirth. Proponents of this movement trust birth, their bodies, their own intuition, and themselves and generally wish to have a birth that is uninterrupted and untarnished.

Of course, in my personal opinion one should interview several midwives when you are first pregnant, and choose one which suits your personality in order to develop a positive and trusting relationship with her SO THAT you can rest assured that during labour and delivery you will be able to trust her to listen to you, your preferences, and support you in the manner that is best for you [and not for her]. Kind of like a doula-midwife-friend all rolled into one. I also believe the optimum doula to be a close friend of a birthing momma who happens to be a doula.

Problems arise when women's wants or needs regarding a non interrupted labour conflict with the basic level of interaction a midwife is comfortable with. For example, listening to a baby's heart tones during labour is fairly standard, and most midwives I know of in my area would not feel comfortable attending a birth if the woman didn't want her baby's heart tones to be listened to at all because it would interrupt her labour process and her concentration. This is a legitimate concern, for both sides: I know I found the doptone incredibly bothersome in labour, uncomfortable, and intrusive. I also know that a prolonged or extreme drop in a baby's heart tones can be the first, and sometimes the only (though fetal movement can be reassuring, as I learned from my friend Asheya, and subsequently noticed in my own delivery), indication of fetal distress and as such most midwives are not comfortable 'not knowing' how a baby is handling labour via heart tones.
Every midwife has a bottom line, beyond which they are not comfortable attending a woman giving birth. It is certainly possible to find a balance between a woman's needs and preferences in labour and a skilled attendant's preferences as for minimum medical interaction.

I just wanted to clarify that most UCs are not entirely labouring alone, and add a few extra details.

I would also like to add that I would fight to the death for a woman's right to choose an unassisted birth, despite the fact that I do not consider it the safest type of birth. It is eating cake, but women have the right to decide for themselves whether to eat cake or not, and any movement in the direction of disallowing women to choose what happens to their own bodies is dangerous, violent, and counter to the core of what I believe is ethical and right.

What do you think of this post of mine? I know there are more of you out there!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Unassisted Childbirth

There has been much buzz on natural childbirth blogs and forums lately concerning a growing group of women in industrialized countries who are choosing to birth without the assistance of a trained childbirth attendant. This type of birth is called Unassisted Childbirth, and is hotly debated.
Recently a huge UC advocate in Australia laboured for five days at home, unassisted, before transferring herself to hospital and delivering a deceased baby. Some forums are silent following this event, and others are in an uproar. One of my blogosphere friends, Rachel, asked me how I felt about this post by the Navelgazing Midwife, criticizing this UC advocate for her choice to labour unassisted just days after the death of her baby.
Being a fledgling birth advocate myself, I hesitate to criticize anyone's birth choices, or at least to do so loudly or with any assumption that there is any weight to my opinions thereof. But I have to say that Unassisted Childbirth seems counterintuitive to me. What I know of labouring women, experientially and from texts and blogs and birth stories I have read, is that above all women need support in labour. Whether this is emotional support from a doula (or mom who acts as a doula, as in my case), labour support from a midwife or nurse when labour or second stage (pushing/delivery of baby) needs guidance or suggestions or nudging along, physical support staying mobile or trying different positions, or medical support with infant resuscitation, maternal hemorrhage, maternal exhaustion, tight fit through the pelvis, or interventions. Apparantly there are some women out there who really, really feel violated by the presence of others during birth. And there are others who cannot find (or are legally barred from employing) the skilled birth attendants they need to have the birth of their choice. For example, in many US states midwifery is outright illegal (or covertly so, as is the case in New York, where midwives must be legally overseen by a physician but all physicians are under strict instructions by insurance companies NOT to oversee midwives at risk of losing their malpractice insurance), making it incredibly difficult for women to choose the safest, most desired option when birthing their babies (evidence is clear that midwife assisted births have lower unnecessary intervention rates and similar low maternal and infant mortality outcomes as physician attended births, at least in Canada). Midwife assisted homebirths are often cited as even safer than midwife assisted hospital births, due to the cleaner environment and deeper relaxation achievable by labouring mothers (and other factors). It is easier for me to see how a mom who desires to have a safe birth and thus wants a midwife assisted birth (at home or elsewhere) and is legally barred from doing so would then perhaps choose to give birth at home, unassisted. I don't agree with it, but I see how that could be so. Most people don't find hospitals to be safe, clean, inviting, or comfortable places to be; why would that be any different when women give birth?
But there are many states where midwife attended births and homebirths are legal, and midwives are available and covered under medical insurance (insurance companies are starting to realize that lower intervention rates are cheaper for them and many are covering midwifery care as a result). In Canada midwifery is legal, though not all provinces/territories fund midwifery care as of yet. The only thing that will change this is consumer demand and the fact that midwifery is cheaper to fund than physician attended care. It costs the same to pay a midwife for prenatal, birth, and post natal care as it does to pay a physician, but physicians have higher intervention rates, and interventions are costly. Astronomically so. When medically indicated, these interventions save lives, and all good midwives will refer patients to obstetricians and other specialists when it is medically necessary. But the truth is they refer less often than physicians do, and intervene less often than obstetricians or physicians. In a funded climate that endorses homebirths as a viable, safe option, it is more difficult for me to understand why women would choose to give birth unassisted. If a midwife determines a woman is high risk and thus transfers her care to a doctor and the woman wants a home birth so badly that she then chooses to give birth at home unassisted, I would venture to say that the experience of giving birth is being too heavily prescripted. You cannot write your own birth story. You set yourself up for the best birth evidence can support you to have, and you choose what is right for that birth at that time, and then you actively watch it unfold. Babies and bodies have minds of their own and sometimes, they write births that are different from ideal.
Riley's was different from the ideal in that he was born very flat, did not move or breathe, and was a greyish purple colour. He was whisked away and resuscitated fully, and then returned to my arms as soon as possible afterwards. Though he was returned quickly and I gave birth naturally, it was not my ideal birth. I had wanted that moment of giving birth to slip easily from labouring to mommying, and for us not to be separated at all. I wanted Riley's first moments outside me to be gentle, calm, and reassuring. But his birth story wrote itself, and I actively watched it unfold. I regret nothing, despite it not being ideal.

That said, I respect women and I think that if they are choosing en masse to give birth unassisted, that is something I need to pay attention to. As a doula, as a future midwife, and as a woman. What is it women are seeking? What is the system lacking? Is there any way we can supply these women with what they need and want with regards to birth and still have them choose skilled birth attendants?

In response to Rachel's question regarding the Navelgazing Midwife's chastising letter to Janet Fraser, the woman who laboured unassisted for five days before delivering a deceased child, I would have to say that anyone who uses the death of a child for political gain is performing a violent act toward that child's memory and its momma. A death is not a political statement, and it makes me angry that Navelgazing Midwife chose to be voilent in this context. In no way are women, and by extension, babies, being served by further alienating UCers.

I wanted some statistics to help guide me as I formed my opinion in response to this Unassisted Childbirth movement, and to the cyberbuzz surrounding its expansion. So in search of some trustworthy stats and meta research regarding birth attendants I visited the WHO website, and I had an epiphany. The WHO website is quite clear that the presence of a skilled birth attendant is what makes the difference in maternal and infant mortality rates around the world. The thing that makes it so difficult for many countries to tackle their high death and injury rates is ACCESS to skilled birth attendants. The model advocated by the WHO is midwifery care with hospital based backup physician attendants. Okay. My epiphany was that around the world, millions upon millions of women do not have the option of choosing a skilled birth attendant to support them as they give birth. There is a poverty of skilled birth attendants in the world, and here we are in our developed nations quibbling over to choose or not to choose a birth attendant. It makes me think of Marie Antoinette's "They are hungry? Let them eat cake!" We have so much we don't realize how priviledged we are. Instead of buzzing around gossiping about the birth of one UCer's baby in Australia, we should be standing up and shouting for the rights of women in countries around the world whose babies and who themselves are dying by the thousands because they don't have the option to choose a skilled birth attendant.

Here are some quotes from the WHO website that impacted me most:

"Investing in Human Capital such as midwives for childbirth is the wisest investment that we can ever make, to ensure sustainability, ownership, fulfilment, and consistently high results" said Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director-General, Family and Community Health, WHO.

All women and babies need maternity care in pregnancy, childbirth and after delivery to ensure optimal pregnancy outcomes. However, around the world, one third of births take place at home without the assistance of a skilled attendant.( 1) WHO strongly advocates for “skilled care at every birth” to reduce the global burden of 536 000 maternal deaths,(2) 3 million stillbirths and 3.7 million newborn deaths(3) each year. Countries measure the proportion of deliveries assisted by skilled attendants frequently since it is one of the indicators of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims to improve maternal health.

(1) Proportion of births attended by a skilled health worker – 2008 updates. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2008 (, accessed 14 August 2008).
(2) Maternal mortality in 2005: estimates developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2007 (, accessed 14 August 2008).
(3) Neonatal and perinatal mortality – country, regional and global estimates 2004. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2006 (, accessed 14 August 2008).

The current number of skilled attendants is critically insufficient. An estimated 700 000 midwives are needed worldwide to ensure universal coverage with maternity care, but there is currently a 50% shortfall. In addition, 47 000 doctors with obstetric skills are required, particularly in rural areas.(5) Worldwide, 4.3 million health workers are lacking.(8)


Given the global shortage of health workers, existing human resources need to be employed most effectively and new health workers need to be recruited. Further, new resources must be raised to recruit, train and retain additional health workers with midwifery skills. This also means providing more incentives to work in midwifery such as satisfactory pay scales, improved status and respect within the health system and career advancement opportunities. They also need adequate equipment, supplies and medicines to help women and babies.

However, training programmes for traditional birth attendants have failed to reduce maternal mortality in the past. The short trainings were not adequate to teach an otherwise unqualified person the critical thinking and decision-making skills needed to practice.

Enhancing the care-seeking behaviour of pregnant women is required in addition to increasing service provision. Read more about “Involving individuals, families and communities to improve maternal and newborn health”.

(5) The world health report 2005 – Make every mother and child count. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2005 (, accessed 14 August 2008).
(8) The world health report 2006 – Working together for health. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2006 (, accessed 14 August 2008).

Source: the WHO website, maternal and newborn health topics

Saturday, May 9, 2009


We have a tradition of a restaurant meal at the restaurant of their choosing with family on the day of our kids' birthdays, and then a friend party on the nearest weekend. Here are some photos...

[the gift we gave was a hit]

The friend party was a big hit also [after a 'discussion' regarding his attitude and how hard mommy works to make birthdays special, and that cranky attitudes on said special days make her mad]~it was a pirate themed birthday party and all attendees were asked to dress up as pirates (girls had the option of dressing as princesses instead), we had a treasure hunt, and I made a homemade treasure chest birthday cake. It wasn't the prettiest cake you ever saw, but it was fun to make and delicious. The kids all recognized what it was supposed to be, so that's good!

Fun times had by all! We had sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a treasure hunt, a pinata, the Veggie Tales movie 'The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything,' fruit and popcorn, cake, gifts, and general all around fun. I must say that it is more work to have a birthday party at home in your own backyard, but it is my favourite kind. Tons of kids have their birthdays at kid centres like Go Bananas or Crash Crawleys, and those are fun too--we had Matthew's birthday last year at Captain Kids' Fun Centre and had a blast! But backyard birthdays are best, I think. I find kid centres to be overwhelming and noisy. Rec centre or community pool birthdays tend to be better because only the kids who were invited to the party are in the room for the eating and party part. At home is fun because your kids can share their home, backyard, toys, and activities with their friends, and the parents have everything they need close by as far as the fridge and food and sidewalk chalk are concerned. I think it costs about the same to do all 3 types of birthdays. Anyways, we had tons of fun. I can't believe my baby is six!