Preparing for Parenthood

If you know me in real life, you probably know that I did a lot of "research" while I was pregnant. I really wanted to be prepared for this baby, and the only way I knew how was to read lots of books and ask lots of questions. I asked questions of our obstetrician. I asked questions of my friends who were already parents. I asked questions of my family members. I asked questions of the lady in the checkout line at the supermarket.

My life was one big question mark. Who was this baby growing inside me? What would he be like? Would he have his Daddy's sense of humor? My curly hair? Would we have any clue how to take care of him???

Now that Jack is here, I realize that all of the book reading and question asking probably didn't hurt; but really, there's just no way to prepare for the changes that come with becoming a parent. Even if someone could articulate what happens when you create a new person, you would never be able to comprehend it. If by some miracle you could comprehend it, I think your head would explode. So it's probably a good thing that there's no way to prepare for it, or people probably wouldn't reproduce.

That said, allow me to share with you some of the things I found most helpful in my preparation for Mommyhood...

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two -- by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN

This book is incredible. I had been warned against getting the "What to Expect" books because they were too scary. Apparently, these books basically tell you everything horrible that could happen to your baby, and why it probably will. So, I steered clear and opted for the gentler words of attachment parenting founder, Dr. Sears. I devoured this book while I was pregnant, and have referred to it numerous times since Jack's arrival. My summary of the advice in this book: know your baby and respond to his cues. Pretty simple, huh? Oh, and the book is full of good old scientific facts, information on milestones, and tons of "how to" information. It's the closest thing I found to a "baby owner's manual."

The Business of Being Born
This movie examines the struggle we face in America between viewing childbirth as a natural process versus a medical emergency. It looks at hospital births versus home-births, as well as doctor-attended births versus midwife-attended births. The movie does have a strong bias, but it also offers up some eye-opening statistics. Did you know that the United States has the second-worst newborn death rate in the developed world and one of the highest maternal mortality rates in industrialized countries?!? Shocking. This movie prompted me to look into the option of home birth; and while we didn't end up going that route, I credit this movie with providing the impetus to become an active participant in Jack's birth rather than a "patient."

Prenatal yoga.
I found a local prenatal yoga group and started going when I was about 13 or 14 weeks pregnant. It was one of the best things I did while I was pregnant. Not only was it great for me and the baby physically, the emotional support was incredible. The class was two hours every Monday night. The first hour was spent sitting in a circle, and each woman got to share her thoughts on the topic of the evening. The second hour was spent focusing on our bodies (doing the actual yoga), and honoring our connections with our little one. I learned so much from our teacher, and from the other women in the class. Plus, now I have a great group of "Mommy" friends, and Jack has a ton of little yoga baby friends! I also purchased the Shiva Rea DVD and did that a few times at home. Good stuff, the yoga. Highly recommend it.

Massage. Lucky for me, my mom owns a salon. I was able to get a great prenatal massage about once a month. I did 90 minutes, but even if you can get in for a 30 minute massage, do it! Just make sure you check with your doctor or midwife before you schedule your appointment. There are a few contraindications. Better safe than sorry.

What are some of the things that you did to prepare for your little one? Are there things your wish you had or hadn't done?


Our Birth Story (part one)

warning: I don't think I get too graphic, but this is the story of Jack's birth. You were warned.

After an amazing pregnancy, John and I were more than ready to meet our little one. He, however, had made himself comfortable and wasn't very interested in coming out to meet us. Here's the story of our journey to meet our baby...

Throughout the pregnancy, I did a lot of research and a lot of "soul searching." I wanted to plan the perfect birth. Looking back, I know how crazy that sounds; but I guess I wanted to make sure that I did everything I could to prepare for the baby's safe arrival. I also really wanted to work on preparing myself emotionally. I felt like massive amounts of information (both scientific and anecdotal) would somehow make up for my lack of experience in the birthing arena. Now I know that it's about as effective as studying the driver's manual for your behind the wheel test. In any event, I devoured book after book, read birth stories all day long, and talked to Mommies who'd been there, done that. By the end of our pregnancy, I was as ready as I was going to be.

March 13th, our estimated due date, came and went, and still the baby was inside. Even though I knew that the baby probably wouldn't come on his “due date,” I was a little emotional that day. I felt a little disappointed that the baby wasn't here, yet. We remained patient, going in for weekly (and then daily) ultrasounds and biophysical profiles to make sure the baby was still doing well. We talked with the doctor about the “what ifs” – how long would we be able to wait before we had to evict him? What would that mean? What were the options? We all agreed that we would give the baby as much time as possible to come out on his own; but if he wasn't out at 42 weeks, we would have to help him along. After preparing for a natural, normal birth, I was very apprehensive about being induced. In fact, it was really my biggest fear throughout the whole pregnancy. With all the reading and preparing I had done, I had really sort of glossed over the induction & c-section stuff, hoping that I wouldn't need to know about it, anyway.

I tried to remain positive and asked the baby every day to come out on his own. But, when our due date came and went, I did what I could to try to avoid induction. John and I walked every day, trying to get things moving. I drank raspberry leaf tea, took evening primrose oil, ate spicy foods and did jumping jacks. I also had acupuncture and massage, to no avail – although it did feel marvelous!

On March 22nd, at 41 weeks, our doctor stripped my membranes. I was dilated to 3 cm and about 60% effaced. By the time we got home I felt crampy and started having a few irregular contractions. John and I went for a long walk that night to try to get things to progress. The contractions were coming every 8-9 minutes and seemed to be getting more intense. We called our doula, Sara, at about 10:30 p.m. She told me to take a shower and try to get some sleep. The contractions stopped a few hours later.

Back to the doctor on March 25th for a BPP. The baby still looked good, but my amniotic fluid was getting low. Doctor stripped my membranes again, and we (tearfully) made a plan to check in at the hospital the next morning at 8:00 a.m. At this point, I felt like I had failed. After so many months and months of preparing for a normal birth, here we were talking about cervadil and pitocin. I was scared of being induced, so sure that it was an automatic route to a c-section. So I cried for a few minutes and let those feelings out and then focused on the positive: we would soon have our baby in our arms!

That night felt like the night before Christmas. It was so hard to fall asleep. I had so many emotions swirling around inside. I turned on our music from prenatal yoga class and did some guided relaxation. Finally, I fell asleep. At about 1:00 a.m., I woke up to a pretty intense contraction. My heart just about leaped out of my chest when I felt another one come less than 15 minutes later. This had happened a few times before, but some how this felt different. And the contractions kept coming and getting more regular. I tried to go back to sleep, and I think I got a few more hours in before the contractions wouldn't let me sleep any more. I called the hospital at 7 am to see if they still wanted us to check in for induction at 8, or if we could labor at home. Of course they told us to come in... But at that point, I was fine with it. I knew I was in labor and I felt encouraged that the baby had finally gotten the message, and was trying to come on his own. We called Sara and asked her to meet us at the hospital...


Say Cheese!

I'm taking an online photography class, and I'm so excited. I've been trying to figure out how to use our DSLR, and I think I have the very basics down. I'm still shooting in priority modes rather than manual, but I'll get there someday.

The class starts on my birthday. I'll be posting my homework here and sharing my progress with you. Currently, I'm taking a lot of photos and hoping that I get one or two good ones. It would be great to know that there are a few good ones in the batch instead of just shooting willy-nilly and hoping for the best.

Eventually, I'd love to take a photo processing course as well. I need to learn how to fix enhance the good shots I do manage to take.

For now, I'll leave you with another one of my favorite photos of the Little Man...


Do Fun Stuff.

Check out this amazing project from Pacing the Panic Room. This is such a fun album for kids. It's kid's music for parents. It's music that your kids will like but that doesn't make you stick pencils in your ears after listening to it over and over and over... You'll actually like it! I downloaded it today, and I can't wait to listen to it with the Little Man tomorrow. And the proceeds go to PRISMS to research Smith Magenis Syndrome. Good music for a good cause!


Photo Challenge - Favorite Shot

I'm big like you!

This is my entry into the Two Moms Made a Photo Challenge on Linkie Lueville blog. It's so hard to pick one favorite photo, but this one is definitely up there. He was about three months old here. It's actually part of a little series where it looks like Jack and the elephant are having a little conversation. This image is SOOC - no processing. I definitely need to learn how to use Photoshop or some other photo editing software; but I think this photo looks pretty good without any processing.