Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Random Birth Thoughts

I spent last night perusing my birth blog links (midwives, doulas, etc.). There's so much inspirational stuff out there. It reminds me I should spend more time reading when I'm on-line and less time playing WordTwist in Facebook.

And I should spend more time writing when I'm on-line than browsing groups on Ravelry.

But then hasn't many a therapist said we fill our lives with too many "shoulds?" The kinder approach to oneself is to be forgiving, especially of small vices and transgressions (Mountain Dew, buying more yarn than one could possibly use, Scramble...).

Anyway, I wonder how many of you have heard about this reported link between surgical birth and the risk of Type I diabetes for the baby? They don't seem to understand the mechanism yet. Still, another reason to birth vaginally if you can.

I do not have any clients for the fall. At the moment I'm appreciating the break from call and visits. My guess is that will fade by October and I'll add someone before the end of the year. I am still in touch with my most recent two clients, one of whom just went back to work, the other of whom will go back in about two weeks. Neither was ready. Why do we rush our mothers back to work so soon?

My recent insight was that as much as I dread long births (like, 20+ hours long), those are invariably the births at which I feel most useful and from which I form the closest bonds with clients. A special bonding happens when you cover epic birth ground together. It's just not the same when you're with a client two or three hours and the baby's born. NOT that we complain about those births. And not that I've had so many of them on which to base my judgment.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Knitting Doldrums

I'm adrift. Casting about from feeble project to half-hearted swatch. For everything I think to knit, I lack either the right yarn or the right pattern.

It could be the post-sweater let-down. Since finishing Snorri in June, I just haven't been able to pick up anything else meaty. This often is the case when I finish a book I've really liked. I can't jump right into another one. I read periodicals or children's fiction instead.

The new house also could be to blame. My knitting time has always been in the evening, on the living room couch, while my spouse watches a ballgame on the other side of the room. In our new house, the TV is in the basement, the couch is in the living room and my evenings are filled with the seemingly endless tasks of getting settled. There are no routines or physical prompts conducive to knitting.

Regardless, the result is this:

and -- yawn -- this:

Do these not scream knitting apathy? "What the hey, give me some yarn...any size needles...leave me alone here to garter stitch..."

The first project is really just playing. A log cabin progression in Noro Kureyon. The second project is some cotton dishcloths using the tried and true pattern and my random balls of 1824 Cotton.

I've also swatched for the start of a sweater for my spouse. But I tried Addi Turbos for the first time and would rather not remember the experience. Needless to say I returned them for some Clover Bamboos the next opportunity I had.

I don't worry this will pass. It just disappoints while it's here.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

nightly blood sucking or monthly metamorphoses?

I know: what's up with 3 posts in the same week? Am I getting back in a groove? Wouldn't that be nice?

I have to share with someone this conversation from last week. We were at the home of friends having some beers (well, I wasn't. I hate beer. I was having a Smirnoff something or other, which is flavored beer, but works for me).

These were Molson (or Labatt?) beers with "conversation questions" on the label. A kitchy idea with just enough genuine merit that we found ourselves reading and answering them. The one that divided us and nearly started a marital spat or two?

"Who would you rather be, a vampire or a werewolf?"

We all rolled our eyes. Easy. No question.

Vampire, right? Except, no! The men said werewolf.

Looks of shock and outrage were exchanged. Then we settled down and explained ourselves. It was clear that sex appeal drove those of us in the vampire camp:

  • vampires are seductive
  • they are drawn to that most scintillating of areas, the neck
  • they have orgies or group somethings (who saw the movie with Tom Cruise?)
  • they're attractive, if undead
The men werewolf contingent thought it obvious that the appeal came from having that animal strength and general reprieve from symptoms except for the monthly full moon. Never mind that we are subject to our own monthly symptoms, the strength argument held little weight.

And that was without taking THIS phenomenon into account, which will no doubt persuade me even more (and is already working on fellow blogger Peacock Chic).

My random Thursday question to you is if you're with me in the vampire camp? If you vote, please include your gender, so I can test my hypothesis that this is very much a men are from Mars, women are from Venus thing.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Sweetest Little Face

No matter how often you've seen it, the appearance of the baby's head in the birth canal is exciting. Encouraging comments ("you're doing so well," "what amazing work you're doing") take on a new level of sincerity and intensity when non-maternal skin shows up.

Many partners become emotional at seeing this first glimpse of their baby:

Oh my gosh! I can see her! You're doing it! Yes...pushpushpushpushpushpushOmigod! Sweetie, She's right there. She's coming! Again? O.K. Pushpushpushpushpush. OH! I can see her little face [sniffle]. She's beautiful! She looks just like-- O.K. YES! PUSHPUSHPUSH. She's so close now...
I've been there. I've ridden that climaxing wave of emotion. It is a big part of the payoff for us doulas, that high.

However, after a few births we learn to take a second look when someone announces they can see the face. Face presentations are rare. In fact, when they occur, the face can become so swollen, that it is mistaken for a bottom! And because it takes the brunt of the friction and force, face presentations often aren't pretty (at first).

Nor is the "face" in the canal pretty. On closer inspection, it seems rather disfigured, often with lots of dark lanugo.

What's going on?

It took me a while to realize I and all these thrilled (or horrified) parents were seeing not a wee face, but a wrinkled patch of scalp.

As the baby comes down the vaginal canal, she usually does a two-steps-forward-one-step-back progression. Overall each push moves her down, but she slides back up a little once the pressure is off. At that point, her skin is pressed tight against the vaginal wall. It doesn't slide all the way back. As the skull bones pull back and slacken the scalp skin, it folds and wrinkles. Try this with your arm: grab it a few inches below the elbow and push toward your hand. See the wrinkles near your grip?

Put those wrinkles under some mucus, down a narrow tunnel, and they could be anything. Especially when all the thoughts of love and anticipation are projected onto them. They could indeed be a face.

When the baby truly crowns, when the perineum is stretched to snapping and the head is moments away from fully exiting, the scalp is stretched taught. There are no wrinkles and no mistaking what is face and what isn't.

Unless they look upset, I don't explain to a partner what that "face" really is. When they are so happy to see it, so full of affection for it, who am I to get in the way? I try to see a face, too, as they are seeing it. Their sweet baby's face.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Front lawn birth

This has probably made the rounds already -- the baby born in an Ann Arbor front lawn. If you haven't read the story it's really a fun one. The doula on-hand, Beth Barbeau, is a local homebirth midwife, doula, and breastfeeding educator. And a delightful soul on top of all that.

Says the article,

Barbeau arrived at 10:50 and found that Jennifer was still in the early stages of dilation, but her water broke as she was getting out of the shower. By the time Jennifer was helped out to the car, she could feel the baby coming. "We won't make it!" she shouted.

Barbeau needed to examine her. In the dark in the front yard, she mistook Jakary for her daughter.

"She grabbed my mom's crotch," said Jennifer.
I can only imagine how crazy things were there for a few minutes.

The one potential negative I can see to the story is that it perpetuates the common misperception that doulas are involved in the woman's medical care. As a doula, I am not permitted to check for dilation. In the situation above, I would have (as my partner T$ did at her client's unplanned home birth) called for an ambulance and helped catch the baby if it arrived before the ambulance.

The DONA Standards of Practice actually say, "If doulas who are also health care professionals choose to provide services for a client that are outside the doula’s scope of practice, they should not describe themselves as doulas to their client or to others." I don't read that to mean that you CANNOT use your skills in an "emergency" situation that calls for them. It seems Barbeau should be able to use her midwife skills if a client is delivering a baby.

I just don't want people to think, "I'm not going to have a doula because I don't want one more person with her hand up my hoo hoo."

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