Sunday, August 29, 2010


I love each and every one of you, FOREVER and always.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Phase 1: All Girls Together Now!

From Left to Right: Vixen, Tortoise, and Zebra
           Today begins Phase 1 of All Girls Together!! Since Koala will be joining us in just a few short months, and there is no room in Tortoise's room for a baby crib, and it's not completely "fair" to put 3 girls in one room while Tortoise gets her own room all-to-herself... they are all moving in together!! We recently completed our 1,000 sq. ft. addition in which we made 2 new bedrooms (one for the boys and one for Vixen and Zebra, while Tortoise got an "old" bedroom all to herself), a HUGE playroom, an all-new living room, and a very small room that I had claimed as a craft room. The brand-new playroom will become the all-new Girl's Room, the not-yet-finished craft room will now become a permanent nursery for our babies, the brand-new room that Z and V were in will become the "new" Playroom, and Tortoise's "old" room will become my all-new Craft Room! The girls are VERY excited about the move.. surprisingly they ALL wanted to share their room with Baby Koala. :) Yay for Baby Koala!! 
Tortoise and Zebra shared a room before Vixen was born,
and all 3 shared one 10x10 room until the addition was done
the room was WAY too small though, and T and Z were usually at odds
I am excited that T and Z are looking forward to rooming together again.

               So Phase 1 begins!! During this phase of evolution... lol... all 5 kids are currently in the playroom sorting out toys.  A bit ago, I went in the room and dumped ALL the toy bins on the floor, then told them to sort out all the toys into individual piles by who-they-belong-to. When the toys are all sorted out, they will get their toy bins back and must pick which toys they want to keep. I explained that the rule is: "From now on, if a toy does NOT fit into YOUR toy bin, YOU must pick a toy to give away." -- the fact is, these kids have WAY too many toys... so today is dedicated to thinning out the piles into their bins (they each have a toy bin with their name on it). If they can't get a toy into the bin, then they must figure out what needs to go to make it fit. Anything that isn't in the bins when the day is through gets donated. :) THEN, when they go into the playroom each night before bed to clean up the mess, the theory is that it will be a quick job because everything will fit into a bin, and nothing will remain on the floor. :)
My Girls
            When Phase 1 is complete, we will load up all the toys designated for donation and take them to town... then we will go to the park!
What beautiful artwork!!
            Hopefully, Phase 2: Finishing Brand-New Girl's Room will begin tomorrow... during this phase, I will -finally- paint the window trim in the room, hang the curtains, and lay the flooring in the room. Phase 3: Moving Day, will begin hopefully next week... on that day we will move all the girl's beds and dressers into the new room, and move all the Playroom flooring into the new Playroom and assign spots for toy bins and books. Phase 4: the Nursery and Craftroom will come after that... I have 3 months in which to paint, lay flooring, set up the furniture, and get everything ready for Koala and I. :) I'm excited!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Changes at Giggle's Zoo

I spent all day yesterday thinking about yesterday's post of self-image... Why does my daughter think that being thin is so important? Why do her friends have more sway over her than I do as her mother? Why is Vixen always misbehaving? Why do Monkey and Elephant whine so much? Why is Zebra so withdrawn? ...... the answer is the same for all.... Because I - as their mother and primary caregiver - allow it.  That's why. *sigh*
       Lion and I have discussed this before, but somehow I always seem to forget. If I am not consistent in their discipline, in their level of care, in my responses to their requests, to everything, then they can't possibly know how to behave consistently. 
       Vixen behaves like a brat because I CALL (usually jokingly, but not always) her one, and because sometimes I think the things she does are funny. If I rewarded her sweet and kind behavior and disciplined her "bad" behavior more consistently, maybe she wouldn't misbehave as much. She is ALWAYS a delight when one of us takes her to town by herself.. I have often wondered about why that is... but the answer is obvious... because she is getting one-on-one attention with no distractions from her 4 older brothers and sisters. She is far more likely to misbehave when we are trying to do something that requires our attention - thus taking our attention off of her and her needs. She may, in fact, be TRYING to tell us she needs us for something before she misbehaves, but we fail to see it because our attention is diverted to something - or someone - else.
     Tortoise thinks that being skinny and looking good in front of her friends at school is all important because I have not CONSISTENTLY told her that looks count for little next to personality. That if she wants to be like for WHO she is, not WHAT she shows people, then she needs to stop caring so much about the external. -- I'm NOT talking about hygiene. And start showing others the kind, considerate, beautiful girl she is on the inside. Who chooses to be her friend because of this is a TRUE friend and not one that will drop you and betray you when you gain a few pounds, wear mis-matched clothes, or don't have the newest trendiest outfits.
      Monkey and Elephant whine because they are not getting consistent, GOOD attention from their mama. If I spent more time outside playing with them, or inside reading to them, or including them in the daily activities,  and less time reading and playing online, mayhap they wouldn't need so much "negative" attention.
       Zebra is withdrawn due to the fact that her personality isn't as outgoing as the others, and therefore she gets overlooked. She doesn't seem to need as much attention as the others, so she doesn't receive it. This is a side-effect of having many young children.. not a good one, mind you, but a side-effect none-the-less. She needs, and deserves, as much personal time as each of the others, but fails to get it because far more often than not the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  
      Maybe when they come in from getting a boo-boo, my response SHOULDN'T be "are you bleeding" - jokingly or not! There will come a day when I will miss patching up their boo-boos - imaginary or otherwise. There will come a day when they DON'T want me to play outside with them anymore - and I will have, for the most part, missed it. There will come a day when they DON'T need or want to hold my hand or sit in my lap, or want 5 more bed-time hugs, or for me to read them stories (certainly not "just one more"). As MckMama says "I WILL MISS THIS". (click on link to see her post) I will miss bath-time, and playtime, and tummy-time with babies, and nursing, and being pregnant, and story-time, and help-me-bake-cookies-time, and the multitude of other things in a mom's repertoire. And if I'm not careful, I won't even have all the warm, wonderful memories to look back on with happiness. I will wish I had spent less time looking forward to nap and bedtime (the time I spend wondering when I'm going to get some time for ME), and more time enjoying my wonderful children while they still want me around. :)
      The first step is admitting you have a problem. The fact is *I* am the problem. I am not giving my children the positive attention they need to thrive. Instead of spending the day thinking about what *I* would like to do, I should first determine what my family needs. I don't IGNORE them, mind you. I'm not one of those parents that locks their kids outside all day and tells them to deal with it. I don't not bathe them on a regular basis, I don't let them go to town or school in dirty filthy unwashed clothes- I DO let them play outside and make a complete mess of themselves and sometime not allow them to change just so they can go outside and mess up yet another set of clothes. I make sure their hair is brushed, or cut properly in the case of the boys. I make sure their homework is done and that they practice their spelling every day after school. I help Zebra get her "sharing" (like show-and-tell) homework done and in her backpack for school on her sharing day. But I also spend 2-3 hours online every morning. Is that beneficial to my kids? or to me for that matter??? Is setting Monkey in front of the TV for this entire time good for him? Maybe Vixen misbehaves so much during this time because she is feeling neglected, and seeking attention. maybe. 
     SO! Here's the plan: I will NOT call Vixen a brat - or any other names, nor allow anyone else to do so either - anymore. I will take time every day for each of them one-on-one. I will read to them every day, regardless of the level of today's headache. I will come outside and watch their pretend baseball games and the "new" trick they learned on the swingset. I will push little Vixen on the swingset, as well as any of the others who wish it. I will paint Tortoise's nails, and Zebra's and Vixen's, so that they are pretty, WHILE I tell them how little  outward appearance matters in the long run. I will kiss every boo-boo, imaginary or otherwise. I will not spend all day lamenting how overweight I am. I will take the puppy, and all the kids that wish to go, out on a walk every day. I will enjoy this pregnancy, for it may be my last - it may not too, so I will enjoy EVERY pregnancy that God chooses to give us. 
       :) time to implement the new plan and take puppy, Monkey, and Vixen out for a nice long walk. It may have the added side benefit of reducing the frequency and severity of my constant headaches as well. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Young Girls' Self-Image

I apologize in advance for the nekkid doll pictures, but it was the only way to illustrate my point.

This morning, as Tortoise was getting ready for school, Vixen brought a nekkid Belle doll out of her bedroom and sat on the couch next to big sis Tortoise. I have no idea who undressed Belle, but it's irrelevant to this post anyway... here is the doll as Tortoise saw her this morning:
          When Vixen got up and wandered away, she left Belle on the couch next to Tortoise. Tortoise picked her up looked her up and down and said "Belle is fat." then put her down.  
           I looked at Tortoise with shock... "Why do you say that Tortoise? Belle looks perfectly healthy to me. She's not Fat.". Tortoise picked Belle back up and showed me Belle's side view... and the small curve of her belly...
Side view of Belle's nekkid tummy

Tortoise then pointed at the curve and said... "That's fat.". I must have looked at her like she was crazy or something cause she started to get defensive... "Isn't she fat, Mama? Her belly... it's not...." she couldn't even put it into words, but in her mind, Belle is fat. I know I'VE never taught her this nutty concept that you are "fat" if your belly isn't perfectly flat... I have teased skinny Tortoise on occasion -that she's too skinny and that we need to bulk her up some so she looks like a member of the family... and teased her about the sheer amount of food she can put away and not gain a single ounce. But not once have I or her daddy indicated this insane view of what is fat. She isn't allowed to watch the TV shows that the other girls her age watch, so she couldn't have picked it up from TV. I'm frustrated that she will go through life thinking she's fat if she's isn't a size 4... or God forbid a 2!! Tortoise will never be a 2, or a 4, and be healthy... 
           I remember being a teenager, 5'9" and 145 pounds size 8... and I didn't think I was thin either.... why??? why why why??? As the mother of soon-to-be-4 girls I am worried about their self-image. If  Tortoise has this crazy idea that this doll is fat, then what will my other girls think? How do I prevent this concept from getting such a strong toe-hold on them that they can never be happy with their very healthy bodies? Of course it swings both ways... 
          take the TV show "Drop Dead Diva"... the actress in that show is content with her body... content isn't the right word. Calling herself a "diva" isn't content. It's no more healthy for my girls to see that TV show than it is for them to be inundated with posters of models that are so underweight you can see every rib, every vertebrae. I want my girls to be healthy... 
          but girls today have idiotic ideas on what is healthy.. 
           Drew Darrymore is beautiful! When she played in Charlie's Angels she was a healthy wieght and gorgeous.. but paired up with very thin Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz, the newspapers and entertainment industry labeled her as fat. FAT!? NO WAY! Since then she has dropped a good 20 pounds.. pounds that she probably couldn't have afforded to lose and be truly healthy, but that's what she had to do to maintain a good image with the entertainment industry... she's even in Cover Girl commercials now... and -to me anyway- she looks dangerously thin. I found her much more attractive in Charlie's Angels than in those commercials.... *sigh* 
           How do I stop this crazy cycle?? How do I get my girls to understand that they are beautiful? TELLING them how beautiful will only go so far... I know this. What other options do I have?? any ideas?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Home-birthing Part 3: my 4 Home-births with Stork

Wow, what I had intended to be a simple, not-too-long post on home-birth certainly has turned into an ordeal!! I really didn't think I was going to have to break it up into 3 days worth of posts, and certainly didn't expect it would take over a week to compose! *sigh* Hope those of you that wanted me to blog about home-birthing really wanted all of this info, cause geez, it's been - well, can't think of the right word - getting it done. ;)
Lion and I during Elephant's Birth

ANYWAY! On to the topic of this blog post, and the reason I began this 3 day blog excursion into home-birthing...
Me in Labor with Monkey
My 4 Home-Births With Stork
Clockwise L to R: Stork tending Elephant, Me, Eclectus, Mt Goat, Hedgehog holding baby Raccoon, and Stork's helper -- also in the room: Meerkat and Eclectus was on the phone with my dad Tiger

Since I've already explored all the reasons I chose to home-birth the first time (with Elephant), I guess I'll just jump in with the hows and whys and what-happened. 
Me with Elephant just after the Herb-bath
Elephant is our second child, and our first boy. I saw Stork at her home office every 4 weeks for the first 7(?) months, got all the usual pregnancy checkups, bloodwork, and a sonogram every checkup to check heartbeat. Got an ultrasound mostly for the heck of it ;) (actually that turned into a tiny ordeal cause the doctor that did the original ultrasound thought little guys' head was too big for his little body and sent us to a peri-natologist for another in-depth ultrasound to ensure there was nothing wrong.) Long stork short, he was great, just had --has-- a BIG head, and that he is a boy! At 7(?) months I began seeing Stork every 2 weeks, checking his delivery position, a discussing what I did (and didn't) want in terms of medical interventions (do I or don't I want a 28 week Rhogam shot -- as I have Rh negative blood, do I or don't I wish to be tested for Hep B, do I or don't I want baby to get the Vitamin K, Hep B,  and eye ointment after birth... etc), as well as getting the Birth Kit ordered from her supplier (contains the medical supplies needed for the birth as well as additional tests for determining baby's blood type --if he had Rh positive blood, I would need Rhogam to ensure the health of future babies-- and the herbal bath mix. We also talked at length about me, about birth, about family, about possible positions, about the Giggle Clan, about politics, about life... gee, about everything really!
Lion with Elephant just after his Birth

At 36 weeks, Stork met me at our house
there area  few reasons for this:
1. She would know how to get there before she NEEDED to get there
2. So that she could be introduced to any family pets - like a dog that might need to know a person before letting them in the house - not a consideration for us at that time
3. So she would know where the supplies are, and ensure that the Birth Kit had arrived, and that everything was accounted for
4. To find out where I keep things like extra towels, sheets, dishes, pots and pans, coffee etc
5. Make sure she knows the bast place to park, and where to put her birthing supplies
-- I'm sure there are more reasons, but that's the basics
Lion and I get our first good look at Zebra

2 weeks later -- right at 38 weeks, I went into Labor at 12 noon -- at Church. :) no kidding. I made it through the service, but went directly home to call Stork and report that contractions had begun, had not ceased, and were getting more regular. She asked if we wanted her to come right away and be there for the whole process, or if we (not she, WE) wanted her to wait till it heated up a bit more. We opted for the later option, thinking most everyone wasn't there yet anyway, and that when the contractions got closer together we would call and have her some check on progress. In the meantime, we called everyone who wanted to be there for the birth -- at the house -- not in the room with me :) I'm weird but I'm not into voyeurism. LOL When the contractions became more frequent, we called Stork and asked her to come, and was with us until well after little Elephant made his appearance. 
Meerkat holds Zebra
When Stork arrived, she checked on me and progression first, then made the rounds saying hello and catching up with those that she knew and getting introduced to those that she didn't. When the Labor progressed to being too uncomfortable to bear within polite -or impolite- company, Lion, Eclectus, Stork and I went into the bedroom to get ready for the final stages of birth. The rest of our Labor Party Guests began to watch a movie... or was it play X-Box... well, something! 
Lion & Lemur play X-Box before the real fun of Zebra's birthing begins
Let me tell you.. I was expecting another easy, mostly pain-free, fast birth - like Tortoise's... I got one wish... it was fast. From 6 cm to babe-in-arms was less than 2.5 hours. Elephant was born 10 hours from the onset of contractions. And it was NOT easy, or pain free. WOW was it NOT pain-free. Mt. Goat even commented that he had never heard a woman scream that much - and he was in another room! Turns out Elephant wanted to be born like Superman must have been... flying!! -- his left arm was delivered first... and his left shoulder came with the afore-mentioned MASSIVE head. And, here's the scary part... the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck... many times. My little boy was blue. Not pink or even red like typical newborns... no, my little superhero was purplish-BLUE. He thought for a very short time that breathing was optional. Lucky for us, we had chosen Stork. 

Stork didn't hesitate for even a fraction of a second... before I even knew anything was wrong - even before I had delivered the rest of his itty-bitty body- she had the cord cut and unwrapped from Elephant's neck. Seconds after the final push to deliver the rest of his blueish-purple body she put him in a newborn oxygen mask.  When I finally did clue in that something was wrong (in reality this was only seconds... but seemed like an eternity) and started having a tiny panic attack, she had him breathing... and pinking up. What could have been a tragedy, in a hospital or otherwise, was quickly and efficiently taken care of. And little Elephant suffered zero long term effects. His 5 minute APGAR was 8. 8! After being born not breathing! Thank God for Stork! She didn't panic.. not once... not when everyone else in the room was thinking "Oh My God!", no she just did what had to be done for my little boy. God Bless You Stork.

deep breaths Mama Roo... it still makes me a little shaky.
Lion and I hold hands during the rough parts
SO!! Stork watched over little Elephant and me while the final oh-so-fun parts of labor and delivery were completed, then let us have a few minutes of bonding and breastfeeding before I decided I was ready for my herb-bath... WOW... if you're a mom, and never had a herb bath after birthing... you REALLY should give it a try... amazing how it eases pain and relaxes your tired self... and baby gets to take the bath with you too... wonderful things - herb baths (I had never had one before). *sigh of contentment*    After the herb-bath, and a change of clothes for me, Stork did a newborn exam on little Elephant... checked his heart, measured his length and head, then weighed him and recorded it all for his birth certificate. Then, because of the possibility of Rh incompatibility, she tested his blood type. If I remember correctly, he was Rh negative as well, so I did not require a Rhogam injection. After all of this, I was exhausted, so was Elephant... and Lion, and Eclectus, and Meerkat, and and and... since it was coming up on 11 at night, Stork packed up her things, asked if there was anything we needed, and said she'd be back in the morning. 
Monkey moments after birth.
The next day Stork dropped in to check on my postpartum symptoms and make sure baby Elephant was nursing well, check his bilirubin levels (his were normal), and filled out his Birth Certificate info. :) Asked if we wanted to file for a Social Security Number... Little Elephant was official! A week later we had another checkup, Elephant was doing great.. and so was I! 
Lemur was Stork's birth helper for my last 3 babies... here she is helping me through a contraction... she was WONDERFUL
So that was my first home-birth experience... all-in-all a WONDERFUL experience that I, obviously, opted for 3 more times (and going on 4 now). Essentially Zebra, Monkey, and Vixen's visits with Stork were all the same. The births themselves were all unique of course, but the process always remains the same, and Stork was always, always, wonderful! Of course, this birthing stuff couldn't have been done without this wonderful man: my husband and the father of all my gorgeous kiddos is a wonderful birth helper!! See below!!
Those 3 are of Monkey's Birth
this one with Vixen
And the Moms -Eclectus & Meerkat- have been with me through every Labor and birth (Meerkat unfortunately missed Tortoise's bc we lived across the counrty).  They have been AWESOME as well.
Meerkat and Dragonfly (holding Mt Goat and Platypus' newborn Ladybug) during Monkey's Labor Party

Zebra was my largest baby - at 9 pounds 13 oz, but was by far the EASIEST to deliver... still can't figure that one out. She also required bili-lights to alleviate her newborn jaundice... lucky for us, Stork had bili-lights (!!) so she did not get as bad as big sister Tortoise, and was able to undergo her treatment at home. 
Lemur and my good friend Bobcat with me during the Labor Party for Monkey

Monkey was fast and easy as well - he also had a cord complication and was delivered like "the Thinker" with his left fist up next to his chin... but he was less blue and recovered even faster than his big brother. His birth was equal to Toroise's in pain-levels, an easy delivery.

Vixen and I just moments after her birth.

Vixen's birth was equally as difficult as Elephant's but I was more experienced (LAUGH) and handled the pain alot better... she was lethargic the day following her birth, so we called Stork with our concerns with her not waking to nurse, Stork advised a blood sugar test, and then advised a few ounces of sugar water, which perked her right back up. :) yay Vixen! She also had a touch of newborn jaundice, but a good dose of sunlight fixed her right up - she didn't need Stork's bili-lights.
Lion greets his newborn son Monkey with a kiss

Monday, August 23, 2010

Home-Birthing Part 2: Home-birth Midwives

Stork, Lion, Elephant, and I just minutes after Elephant was born

Why home-birth, do you ask? Well, the answer is simple. Both my Mother – Eclectus -and Lion's Mother – Meerkat -gave birth to at least one child at home, by choice. My mother chose home-birthing for my older brother –Dragon- and would have done it again, but my Dad was not happy about it, and since he was uncomfortable with the experience, she chose to deliver me and my sister – Unicorn – in the hospital. Meerkat had Lion in a hospital, but chose home-birthing for all his –much- younger siblings, and very much enjoyed the experience, so both Moms were pro-home-birth when Lion asked if I would want to give it a try… but –as I said in Part 1- I was unwilling to "risk it" with my first child, but after Tortoise's relatively easy and uncomplicated birth in the hospital, I figured giving home-birth a shot was worth a try… especially considering that we had moved away from my home state to near the Giggle Family Farm and therefore, near Stork.
Eclectus holds newborn baby Vixen's hand.

The first step in choosing home-birth is finding a midwife with whom you can connect, and one with good references… much the same as finding an OB/GYN, most women don't simply open the phonebook and point at random… no, usually we research, we ask friends and family, then we meet the prospective doctor/midwife and ensure that their viewpoints on birth, life, pre-natal care, testing etc, line-up with your own. Finding a home-birth midwife is no different. I was lucky though, finding a midwife was no trouble at all once we moved here to Giggle's Zoo.

-Stork and newborn Elephant--
newborn exam

Stork is a home-birth midwife who has been in the "business" of home-birthing for many many years. She "caught" all of Meerkat's babies (except Lion) – including Penguin and Moose. So, she had excellent references from Meerkat. Also, Lemur worked with her for a while – as a helper delivering babies, and was present for a number of more complicated deliveries. Lemur also gave Stork excellent references. The first time I met Stork, I knew she would be fantastic… we talk about everything under the sun, and she's usually fully briefed on family stuff anytime we get together. She's more than my midwife, she's also a friend. And I'm blessed to have her in my life and as my midwife.
Stork checking on me during a contraction during Monkey's delivery.

Here are some blog posts and notes from FB written by Home-Birth Midwives that I found inspiring and/or informative for those of you that are unfamiliar with what home-birth midwives do, and how they feel about their profession:

A post written at the website "Birth Sense: A common sense guide to normal birth"

-A reader recently wrote and told me she has been interested in reading information on home birth, but is understandably hesitant.  What if something goes wrong? What kinds of equipment does the midwife bring?  What happens at a home birth?
-These are all excellent questions; I know many Birth Sense readers have had home births or are involved in the birthing community, and are already familiar with home birth. But I hope that this blog also reaches some women who aren't specifically looking for alternative birth information, or even desiring a natural birth, and sparks an interest in learning more.
-I will share my own practice as a home birth midwife. Other midwives may do things a bit differently, and it's important to talk about routines and what to expect.
-I offer prenatal care on the same schedule that any obstetrician would offer, either at the woman's home (house calls) or at my office. Some women with small children prefer to be seen at their own home, and when this is the case, I have a bag of equipment that is easy to carry with me.  We can check blood pressure, weight, urine if needed, listen to the baby with a doppler or a fetoscope, measure the uterine height, and assess the baby's position, just as you would in an OB's office.
-I do offer all tests that would be routinely given in an OB's office. The difference is, I explain to you the test, what the risks and benefits are, and then ask you if you want to have it done. Nothing is "required" because it's your birth and your body, not mine. I make recommendations, and support your decisions.
-About three to four weeks before the birth, I make a home visit for all mothers. This is so I know I can find their house (sometimes it's hard in the dark, if you've never been there before) and so we can talk about birth plans. We discuss where in the house the woman thinks she might like to give birth, and any logistics about that. For example, an upstairs room with a narrow stairway might be difficult to navigate in any emergency, or the woman might not feel like climbing up and down stairs to the only bathroom after giving birth, so might want to give birth on the same floor where the bathroom is. These are not mandates, simply advice I offer based on my experiences. I give the mother a list of emergency contact numbers with her address in bold at the top, to post by her telephone. This is an essential part of being prepared for an emergency. If I need to ask someone to call an ambulance to the house, and they draw a blank and can't remember the address, it will be posted right above the phone.
-I give the mother a list of items to prepare for the birth. Usually, these are things that she already has around the house or can easily obtain. Two sets of old sheets, some old towels and washcloths, a water-proof floor protector, disposable underpads, sanitary napkins or Depends, and something to wear that won't be ruined if it gets stained. She washes and dries the sheets and towels on "high" and immediately they are folded, put inside a clean plastic garbage bag, and tied shut.
-On the birth day, I bring my birth supplies with me. This includes a birth bag with a doppler and fetoscope, sterile gloves, bulb syringe, DeLee suction, oxygen masks for mother and baby, a bag for ventilating mother and baby, laryngyscope and ET tubes (if baby does not breathe and needs us to breathe for him while waiting for emergency transport), medications to stop bleeding, medications for baby if the mother wants them (eye drops and Vitamin K), IV bags and tubing, blood tubes for drawing blood if necessary, sterile instruments, sterile cord clamp, sterile towels, suturing material, and a scale to weigh the baby.  I often bring other non-medical supplies, such as massage oil, herbs for an herbal bath, and compresses for the mother during pushing and afterward.
-At the birth, there are a minimum of two attendants that are trained in CPR, neonatal resuscitation, can start IVs, and know how to administer medication by injection. After the birth, we make sure mom and baby are doing well, and tuck them in bed together for some bonding time with the family. We check on them frequently, and between checks, we clean up any mess and prepare some food for the mother.
-After several hours, once mother and baby are both stable, we leave the house. I normally return the following day to check on both mother and baby, one day three, and I see the mother at my office on day seven, fourteen, and at four and six weeks postpartum. These visits are to ensure breastfeeding is going well, baby is gaining weight, and mother is not struggling with depression.
-If at any time there are deviations from normal during labor, I am very watchful and don't hesitate to transfer the mother to the hospital if I'm seeing "red flags". I'm sure I transfer more often than is absolutely necessary, but I believe that being cautious and watchful, and not waiting to transfer when things aren't going normally is why I have never had an emergency transfer from a home birth. (By emergency, I mean needing to call an ambulance and get to the hospital as soon as possible). All of my transfers have been for non-emergency situations where thing just weren't looking right.
-I believe that most midwives practice similarly to this description. Home birth can be a safe a viable alternative for many mothers, and is worth considering.

Stork during Newborn Exam - how much does Baby Elephant weigh??

Here's a FB note written by a midwife (Laurie Zoyiopoulos) name and note added with permission

-Most folks would say that I "deliver" babies (though I like to say "catch") and this is true, but it is a fraction of what I do....what this calling requires of me. The contrast between the jobs within my calling are surprising to me and unknown by many, if not most, who see my license plate and think they know who I am.
-I am a teacher of an age-old "profession" and this carries a lot of responsibility. It is almost a given that a midwife will train others to be midwives - this is how midwifery has survived all of these years. Though I don't feel that I am a great teacher, I know that there is much to glean from me and if someone is willing and observant enough, they will learn the skills as they sit at my side, as they lend me a hand, as they serve the women with me.
-You'll see me at the copy place as I work for hours, making copies, putting together the information that I have been given, and that I have created, that gives the best informed consent I can provide. I want all those who hire me to know who I am and what the responsibilities are when one choses to give birth outside of a hospital. Making copies, organizing folders of information, ordering books and DVDs, staying informed, myself, in all the ways available. It can be exhausting in itself, but I know it is a necessary part of being a current midwife, one who teaches others how best to interview a midwife and plan a home birth.
-I can find a fetuses heartbeat and can tell if he is breech, without a doppler or an ultrasound machine. I know of many ways to survive weeks of nausea and what is safe to take - whether herb or medication - and can explain how to time contractions and what to do if your baby is jaundiced. I know many tricks to get a baby to nurse and how to make an herbal bath.
-I keep my supplies stocked and never run out of cord bands or pitocin. You will sometimes find me making sterile packs at midnight or 1 in the morning because they didn't get done earlier in the day and a baby might decide it's not going to wait until the midwife has time to make them the next day.
-I am trained and certified to resuscitate a newly born baby - the ones that think that breathing is an option. I don't allow them this lazy notion and go to work and convince them that its not so bad here after all.
-I know how to follow directions and to be more dependable than my mother ever thought I could be. The weather can have no affect on my travel - I go when I am called and it matters not how bad the roads are. My husband knows and understands this - a midwife needs one of those, too - an understanding husband.
-Though there is nothing new under the sun I need to continue to learn and to discover just what evidenced-based care is -- and practice it.
-There is no job "beneath" my title - I wipe away vomit and clean toilets and feed the family dog. I hope to never feel that I have "earned" anything better. A midwife should always know that she is there to serve, in any way that is needed, and it has nothing to do with what her needs are.
-I am an ambassador for midwives when I enter a doctor's office or a hospital and I take this responsibility very seriously. I've learned that I will gain more trust and respect by saying fewer words and humbly admitting our need for assistance. I have worked hard, for many years, but respect has been attained and my clients get better care because of this. My mother used to be so discouraged at how easily I could cry, but I have changed and matured, I know she would be proud. A midwife has to be strong for her clients, they need to know she will not waiver. A doctor once told me, after treating me harshly without my returning his anger, but also not backing down, that when I enter a hospital I need to come with "thick skin" and he was right. A midwife needs to learn from those who may not even realize that they are teaching her. There is always something to glean and take with you for another time.
-Most of the time I truly love what I do - though my back and arms and legs may ache and I have gone without food and sleep and have had to miss a family celebration. Its a precious calling and it truly can be the easiest thing in the world, but now you know that it comes with much more than just catching babies.
Stork Checking on newborn Baby Zebra - Eclectus looks on

Home-Birth Part 3: My 4 Home-Births with Stork is coming up next

Monkey - Stork checks his vitals after our herb bath.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Break In Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Home-Birthing Part 2: Home-Birth Midwives is not yet ready to "go public" :) so here's a break in our regularly scheduled programming!!

This morning, instead of blogging, I prettied up my blog... ain't it cute?! ;) Aunt Penguin is gonna help me with some more cute stuff maybe later, and Mom Meerkat is working on my permanent blog design, but she's a busy woman!! ;) So, I hope you enjoy this prettiness until the real thing is ready. It WILL be zoo themed... I just couldn't find anything zoo-ish I liked that was free. 

That's it. I'm boring today... now I'm gonna go get to work pretty-ing up my HOUSE - yes Lion, I WILL get it looking nice today -- if the 5 kids co-operate anyways :)

Hopefully Part 2 will be ready soon!

 and for the fun of it... here's a picture of my preggers with Tortoise!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Home-birthing Part 1: My Hospital Experience

Last month someone asked if I was going to do a post on Home-birthing... I have delivered 4 out of 5 children at home by choice... mostly when people discover this they look at me like I've lost my mind... well that's not exactly fair -- they were already looking at me like I was crazy when they realized I have 5 kids (and another on the way)! But when they are told that I choose home-birthing over the hospital, they usually ask "WHY?" then shake their heads and walk away like there's no use trying to reason with someone who's obviously lost touch with reality... like maybe I'm one of those nutty conspiracy theorists who think that the US Government was behind the 9-11 attacks. LOL But honestly, home-birthing is completely safe in non-high-risk pregnancies.
Lion and I at my grandmother's house a few weeks before Tortoise was born.

I guess I need to start at the beginning... Tortoise, my one and only Hospital Birth -- Lion did ask me if I would be willing to home-birth with her, but seeing as how she was my first, and I didn't know if I was one of those that handle the pain of childbirth well, I wasn't willing to try it with Tortoise. Also, we were living in my home state, nowhere near Stork, and I wasn't willing to locate and vet an unknown midwife.. So I told him we would try the first birth at the hospital and see from there if I was willing or able to give home-birthing a try. 
Tortoise in the nursery just after she was born.

Tortoise, our oldest, was born in a Military Hospital in my home state (bc both Lion and I were in the military at the time). The experience was a good one... I received no interventions for her uncomplicated birth (although they did ask - 2 or 3 times - if I wanted an epidural or Pitocin) and the birth itself went smoothly. Of course, I was not allowed to eat or drink anything but ice chips... and was not offered or given the choice of anything but a supine birthing position, but I didn't really want a water birth or an alternate position anyway, so it didn't matter to me. I WOULD have liked the opportunity to drink something other than ice chips though!! I had a wonderful CNM who (even though she was on vacation during the actual birth) was in frequent contact with the CNM who was actually there to deliver Tortoise, and advised her many times as to the Birth Plan that we had discussed (I spent months prior to the birth reading every bit of literature on birthing that I could find, pros ad cons of all the various methods and interventions, as well as all the things that could go wrong). So all in all, the birth itself was almost exactly what I had in mind. 
Lion, Tortoise, and I just minutes after her birth.

After her birth however, she was taken away, and I did not see her for over 8 hours... when I asked for her, I was told that she was breathing too rapidly and that they were "keeping her under observation". When they finally did bring her to me, they would not allow me to sleep with her... anytime I went to sleep they would wake me up and demand that I return her to the bassinet "it is too dangerous to sleep with the baby!" -- Now, I've co-slept with every one of our children, and I have NEVER rolled over on, dropped, or otherwise harmed any of them by doing so--  Also, neither Lion nor I were allowed to carry her anywhere... no walking around with the baby. If we wanted to leave the room, we had to put her in the bassinet and stroll her around, which pretty much meant we didn't leave the room. Obviously, this was so they couldn't be "held responsible" if we had dropped her in the hospital... But, since they weren't going to allow me to parent in my own way, I gave in to their demands. 
Lion and Nurse strolling Tortoise to the nursery
Tortoise and I - she's one day old here
So the Tortoise's hospital birth all-in-all was a positive experience. AFTER we were sent home was another matter entirely -- and I mention this as it has a direct correlation with a couple of my home-births with Stork.
Lion is already in love with his newborn daughter Tortoise

The following day, we were released from the hospital and sent home. Over the next week, Tortoise began turning yellow... I was worried when her color changed and called the CNM asking what to do, she told me that Tortoise was showing signs of Jaundice, which was "completely normal" and that we should place her in sunlight wearing as little as possible - that sunlight helps break down the bilirubin in the blood that was causing the yellowing of the skin. Her skin color did not improve with this treatment.. so at one week old, we went in for her checkup... the CNM said she looked great (despite the yellow coloring), refused to test her bili-levels, and sent us back home. We made n appointment for our 2 weeks checkup and went home to keep Tortoise in more sunlight... 
Tortoise right after her bath - about 10 days old
She's already turning Orange

Over the next week she changed from a yellow-tinted baby to ORANGE. She looked like a Muppet! So I took her back in and asked if THAT was normal... the CNM tried to send us back home without testing again... I refused and demanded they test her bili-levels before we would leave. After a short stand-off, the CNM conceded and sent us to the lab... the Normal range for bili-levels is around 4 (mg/Dl)...  a bili-level of 15 is considered serious. ( ) Tortoise's bili-level was 21!! She ended up spending 3 days in a NICU under bili-lights.  
This picture doesn't properly show her almost burnt-orange color.
This is the day before her 2 week checkup.
Tortoise in the hospital under 24hr bili-lights.

After she was released and sent home, everything went splendidly normal!! :)  
Tortoise and I napping together, we were sleeping in exactly the same position!

Home-birthing Part 2: Home-Birth Midwives -- will be upcoming --
and Home-Birthing Part 3: my 4 Home-Births with Stork will probably include all 4 of my home-births, and the experience as compared to my one hospital birth.
Proud Daddy displays his big catch! Tortoise get's weighed-in.