Natural Childbirth. I NEVER want to do that again.

68968714_b3799ffb3f_bThere seems to be a movement back towards a more natural lifestyle.  Natural foods raised organically, non-genetically modified foods, essential oils instead of antibiotics.  There has even been a movement back towards medication-free child birthing because it is more “natural.”  Well, I’ve had a delivery with an epidural, and then one without.  And let me tell you something, I’m calling bullshit.  There was nothing natural or beautiful about my med-free childbirth experience.

Let’s start with my first birth.  I promise to keep it PG-13 (In other words, no gory details).  In 2010 I was pregnant with twins.  I went in to labor spontaneously at 36 weeks.  Prior to delivery I had talked to my doctor about my options.  He strongly suggested that I have an epidural because twin births can go wrong in the blink of an eye.  Sometimes one baby can be delivered vaginally, and the other baby flips so they have to deliver the second by C-section.  If that happens, the doctors have to move quickly to get the second baby out.  If that was the case, and I didn’t have an epidural they would have no other option than to put me under general anesthesia.  It makes it infinitely more complicated for the doctors, and I would miss the delivery of my babies!  I happily told them I would take the epidural.  

Even though I knew an epidural was the best option, I took a birthing class because I knew I might have to labor for awhile before they gave me the medicine and I wanted to be prepared.  The day labor started and I arrived at the hospital I was already far enough for the epidural.  Both babies were head down I was able to try and deliver vaginally.  By the time I got my epidural the pain was intense enough I wanted it!  And by the time the epidural was wearing off I was ready to deliver so they didn’t give me anymore medicine.  However, all in all, the delivery was pretty easy and no big deal.  

Now, let’s move onto my last delivery.  I went into labor at 4 am.  By the time I got to the hospital at 5:45 am (yes, same day – only 1.75 hours from the first contraction), I was far enough along that they whisked me away to a delivery room but not before I asked several times if I could get an epidural.  The nurses were so calm and I was in sooo much pain.  It was a flurry of activity getting me to the delivery room, calling my doctor, and getting the room prepped for a delivery.  By the time the anesthesiologist came in to set me up for an epidural, I was writhing on the hospital bed with the pain.  He was asking me stupid questions that I can’t even remember what they were.  I’m sure they are important but all I could think about was “STOP TALKING AND GET ME MY MEDS!”  He told me that he was afraid the epidural wouldn’t do me any good because I was so far along, the medicine wouldn’t start working until after I had delivered.  He also said I would have to lay really still to get the medicine and that wasn’t going to happen.

The laborist on call came in the room and reiterated what the anesthesiologist had said.  I was in denial.  I thought, “No, no, no, no.  I can’t do this.  I can’t do this.”  I was also saying that over and over again out loud.  “I can’t do this.”  “I don’t want to do this.”  “Is there anything else you can give me?”

It was the most intense pain I have ever felt and was the scariest experience of my life.   My husband tried pushing me back against the gurney during one contraction since I was flailing around like a crazy lady.  I turned and yelled at him “DON’T PUSH ME DOWN!”  (Sorry honey!)

My husband told me later that he looked at the resident on call, who is a good friend of mine, and she gave him a look that said the epidural wasn’t an option.

So, I had to do something I never imagined I would have to do.  I was worse than the screaming ladies you see in movies.  When those contractions came it was like I was on a completely different planet, and the doctor had to call me back to planet earth.  She probably had to say my name half a dozen times to get my attention.  I remember hearing her voice and thinking “Oh my, I’m still alive!”

And as soon as my beautiful baby was born I blurted out, “I NEVER want to do that again.”  It wasn’t “Oh, look she’s beautiful!”  Nope, it was “I NEVER want to do that again.”

My aunt and I were talking afterwards and she made a good point.  You can have a tooth pulled without pain medication, but why would you want to?  You can have a bone set without medication, but why would you want to?  If you know childbirth is painful, why would you want to go through it without medication?

The point of this is not to scare people into having an epidural, but I also want people to realize that childbirth is no joke either.  Natural childbirth is painful and scary and not for the faint of heart.  And if you have delivered naturally then hats off to you.  (I personally think people are NUTS for deciding to purposefully do childbirth without pain medication!  And no amount of talking will change my  mind! 🙂 )

Next time I am pregnant and a month away from delivery I am going to rent a room in the hospital, and as soon as I feel the first contraction demand an epidural.  Hook me up baby, because I never want to do that again!

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45 Simple Things that Make my Children Smile

It has been awhile (about a year!) since I blogged.  I stopped writing since I wasn’t feeling the best – I had “morning sickness” all day long.  And then I just got lazy. 🙂

We welcomed our newest addition to our family on 12-12-2012, a joyous occasion!  Josephine is a sweet and easy-going baby, though I think she is going to be a handful when she starts moving.  She is never still – always busy.

Over the past three years of being a mom, I have come to the conclusion that children do not require much to make them happy.  Even as babies, they only need food, clean diapers and a face to smile at.

I don’t think much changes as they grow into toddlers.  Simple toys and activities are best.  Who needs expensive toys, just give them some of the plastic and cardboard recyclables!  They don’t need a water park, just fill up the kitchen sink with bubbles and water.

Most important, they do not require much of us, their parents, but our time, which for some reason is sometimes the hardest to give.  Such a simple request, with such a joyous outcome.

I was reminded of this today, as I looked for ways to bring about joy to their faces.  Here’s a list of some of the things that make my children smile and giggle with happiness.

  1. Marshmallow cereal.
  2. Recyclables.
  3. Dance parties.
  4. Smiling at them.
  5. Praising them for something they did right or well.
  6. Their sisters.
  7. Silly noises.
  8. Drawing.
  9. Scissors.
  10. Playing with them.
  11. Imagination.
  12. Reading to them.
  13. Pushing little carts in the grocery store.
  14. Tickle wars.
  15. Sneaking a sip of Daddy’s frappuccino.
  16. Their favorite pajamas or shirts, clean and ready to wear.
  17. Electronics.
  18. Trips to the park.
  19. Friends.
  20. Accomplishing a new task for the first time.
  21. Babies.
  22. Putting a puzzle together.
  23. Family movie nights.
  24. Popcorn.
  25. Story time.
  26. Pretending to be a baby so we carry them.
  27. Hugs and kisses.
  28. Grandparents.
  29. Aunts and uncles.
  30. Water play.  (Outside pool time, or inside playing with bubbles in the sink.)
  31. Sand.
  32. Gardening.
  33. Roly polies. (Poor things.)
  34. M&Ms.
  35. Stickers.
  36. Laundry baskets.
  37. Pictures of themselves when they were babies.
  38. Hearing stories about what they did when they were babies.
  39. Baby wipes. (Who knew they would love to clean so much?)
  40. Rocks.
  41. Mud!
  42. Necklaces.
  43. Painting toenails/fingernails.
  44. Crazy hair.
  45. Large cardboard boxes (The ones dishwashers come in, or even the value packs of diapers.  Either way, they love to climb in and play).

Cute/Funny things my children did this week

I love the stage my twins are in right now.  They are learning so much, they love to imitate, and they are learning how to interact with others.  These past couple weeks they have done a few things that I thought would be fun to share with you.

A helping hand

For Christmas the girls each got a little pink “car” to ride on.  It has a handle on the back so it can be pushed, or the girls can get on the car and use their feet to propel it.  Before this week they hadn’t really paid a whole lot of attention to them.  And then they realized they could chase each other in them.  Pretty soon I heard giggles up and down our hallway where Layla went first and Katherine following close behind.

When they were done chasing each other, they went to move onto the next toy.  Now, Katherine hasn’t mastered getting off the cart gracefully and will ask for help.  I was getting ready to go over to help the other day, when I saw Layla go over and give Katherine her hand to help her out.  Katherine stood up with the help of Layla, and then told Layla “thank you.”  The girls kept right on playing.  It melted my heart to see one girl helping the other one out.

I need Mommy!

The girls are starting to put words into phrases.  Most of them are two words together.  But recently Katherine put together a phrase of her own.  I first heard it when she ran out of food and I didn’t notice right away, and she very urgently told me, “I need more!”  (emphasis on the word more).

Then, a few days later I left my girls with a friend for a few hours.  I walked into the house and started talking.  Katherine heard me from another room and started running for me saying “Mommy, Mommy,” followed by a very clear “I NEED MOMMY!”

I have to admit that was one of my favorite moments of being a mommy so far.

Bottoms Up

Bottoms

Bottoms up!

Eloy always checks on the girls before he heads to bed.  It has been his thing since the first day they came home.  Two nights ago Eloy came into our bedroom laughing and waved at me to come into the girls’ room.  “Get in here and look at your girl.”

I walked in and saw Katherine first.  Nothing new there.  She was sleeping peacefully. Then I looked at Layla.  She was sleeping on her tummy, bottom in the air.  With her diaper off.  :-O  Now, I have found her after nap time with her diaper half un-strapped and down around her knees (with poop!) but this was a first.  She had never before taken her diaper off before she fell asleep.  We rolled her onto her back and put her diaper back on.  She just looked at us with sleepy eyes that said, “Mom and Dad, what are you doing in my room at night waking me up.”

Now, for a while, she will be sleeping in onesies and pants!

“I love you!”

The girls can now say “I love you” and it melts my heart every time.  The “L’s” sound more like soft “Y’s” making it even more adorable.  Tonight we put the girls down for bed as usual.  I heard Layla kind of singing in her crib.  And then I heard Katherine say “Layla! Layla!  I love you!”

If these girls get any more lovable, I’m not sure my heart can take it.

I love you

OH NO! Don’t play with the poop!

Diaper Changing - Step One

In the words of my oldest daughter Katherine, "EWWWW! Stinky!".
Photo courtesy of sunsurfr.

Yes, you guessed it by the title.  Yesterday was my first experience with a child playing in their own poop.  Gross.  And you know what made it worse?  I had a semi-unexpected visitor show up at my door before I figured this out.  Let’s start at the beginning.

I sleep in with my girls nearly every morning.  However late they sleep, I sleep.  I feel no need whatsoever to get up before them and do dishes, or laundry, or anything else.  I am still catching up with my sleep debt from when they refused to sleep all night (which lasted until they were 16 months!).

Anyway, this morning, the girls decided to sleep in until about 9:15 am.  (Yes I know, unbelievable!  🙂 Please don’t hate me, I’ve had my turn at getting next-to-no sleep 🙂 )  I heard them stirring in their cribs – this morning they were happy and just jabbering away – so I decided to see if I could catch a few more minutes of relaxation and started drifting back to sleep when I hear a loud knock on my door.

All I could think was “CRAP! I’m not presentable.”  I ran around, throwing on clothes to go answer the door.  On my way to the door, I pass by the girls’ room and peek in.  Layla was saying in her sing-song voice, “Uh-oh. Uh-oh.” over and over again, so when I saw that Layla had unzipped her footed jammies and was almost completely out of them, I just laughed and thought “I need to get the camera and take a picture.”  So, answering the door, I find a lady we will call Sue.  In the back of my mind, I remember talking with her on the phone and thought she was just going to call me this morning (which she had, I had just ignored her phone call because the girls were still asleep and I was still asleep and besides, she was calling before the time she said she was going to call.  I also put the phone on silent after this in case she called again so she wouldn’t disturb us again.)  It turns out that she said she would call BEFORE she came over to my house to chat.  Oops.

Anyway, I let Sue into the house and told her, “Come with me into the girls’ room.  They are just getting up and I need to change their diapers and put clothes on them.”  On my way to the room I grabbed the camera, and upon entering the room I snapped a picture.  “Say cheese!”

Diaper Change - 212/365 - 31 July 2009

Call for backup!
Photo courtesy of John Flinchbaugh.

It was as I was snapping that first picture that I realize exactly what the “UH-OH” was about.  It wasn’t that Layla was almost out of her jammies.  Oh no.  It was that she had dirtied her britches and some of it had squished out, and she had rubbed it all over her leg.  And the bed sheet.  And it was dried all over her hand.

Horrified, I cleaned Layla up as best as I could with baby wipes and told myself to remember to wash her hands with soap and water before breakfast.  All the while I’m cleaning, Sue is sitting on the girls’ floor, chatting away with me.  I’m just trying not to get poop everywhere.  It was all over by the time we were done, so we had to change the changing pad cover.  I kept thinking, “If I just had one she would be getting a bath right now because it would be easier than trying to scrub this poop off with a wimpy baby wipe.”

After cleaning up Layla, and getting clothes on Layla and Katherine we went out to get them breakfast.  After a couple minor fits I got their toast with Nutella set down in front of them and continued to chat with Sue.

It wasn’t until she left that I realized that I had forgotten to re-wash Layla’s hands.

Luckily Sue is a mom, and I’m sure she understand.  But I don’t think she’ll be visiting in the morning again any time soon  🙂

How we survived newborn twins: Part 2

Besides having lots help those first few months, my husband and I had a few other things that helped us survive our newborn twins.

Here’s a short list:

Survival Tip #1: Find the humor in any situation.  Haven’t showered in half a week?  Crack a joke about how the girls’ diapers smell better than you.  Covered in puke for the third time today?  Just laugh and be glad you didn’t have time to take a shower after the first two times.  Girls are taking turns waking up to eat and you haven’t slept in forever? Umm…..well, maybe go to  survival tip #2 for the answer to that …

Survival Tip #2: When humor is nowhere to be found, cry.  When exhaustion set in, and I can’t tell you how many times I just let myself cry.  I used to feel bad, or embarrassed about crying.  But after having the twins, I have no problem crying.  It’s refreshing and releases all sorts of pent up feelings.

Survival Tip #3: Teamwork. I would not have survived without my husband, of that I am sure.  There were so many times when we both had our hands full.  Poor man didn’t have a break – he would work all day and then come home to screaming babies and a horrible supper.  But he never complained.  Just jumped in to help with the diaper changes, the dishes, sweeping the floor, or whatever needed to be done.

Survival Tip #4: Sleep when the babies sleep. And don’t feel guilty about it.  I still do this one.  When the girls go down for a nap, especially if it was a rough night, I still take naps with the girls.  It took me a LONG time to not feel guilty about this.  But, it made for easier days when I was rested.  Rest helped me feel more patient and a lot more resilient against the blowout diapers, the crying and whatever else happened.

Survival Tip #5: When frustration and irritation set in, just set the baby down in a safe place like the crib, and walk away for a few minutes.  This is where I admit something scary.

When my girls were really little (five months or younger), I was lucky to get two hours of sleep at a time.  This makes for a rather frustrated and exhausted mother.  One night during the week, I had been up most of the night with one girl or the other.  My husband couldn’t really help, because he had to work the next day and the babies wouldn’t take bottles.  This left it up to me to nurse the girls and put them back down.

Right around four or five o’clock (this was the worst time, because I hadn’t slept all night and was feeling rather horrible by now), one of the girls had been awake for awhile and would not go to sleep.  She didn’t want to nurse, and she didn’t want to sleep.  She just wanted to cry.  I remember holding onto her firmly, looking her in the eye and saying rather loudly, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST GO TO SLEEP.”  It was at this moment I realized I needed a break.  I realized how easy it would be just to shake this precious little baby, and I knew I never ever wanted to. I scared myself, a LOT.  And so, with tears running down my face, I went and woke up my husband and said, “I need a break.  I just need a little bit of a break.”

He took over and had her asleep in fifteen minutes.  (grrrrr…..)

After this, if I ever felt myself getting really frustrated, I would set the baby in a bouncer or crib and walk away for just a few minutes.

Get out of the house.  We went on so many walks!  As often as we could, we would get out of the house.  It was refreshing for all of us.  Out of all our walks, the girls only gave us problems once or twice.  They loved it as much as we did.  It also gave Eloy and I much needed time to talk.

Eloy and the girls on one of our many walks. Walks were always refreshing, and gave Eloy and I time to talk.

Click here to read Part 1 of “How we survived newborn twins.”

How we survived twin newborns: Part 1

Exhausted, but happy to be taking the girls home.

Never EVER, turn down help!

We wanted to spend the first few days by ourselves with our new babies.  No help.

Towards the end of my pregnancy my husband and I decided we wanted to have the first few days at home with the babies by ourselves.  Looking back, I can see how insane this idea turned out to be, because as it turned out we had so much help, starting in the hospital, that there is no way we would have made it without the generosity of others with their time and food.

This crazy idea to spend the first few days alone as a little family was something I had read on the internet as a suggestion from another mother.  It was supposed to help you be able to establish your own routines and figure things out by yourself without the added stress of having anyone else around.  <insert evil laugh here>  Now, we told this to a few people and they were very polite and said, “Oh, that sounds nice.”  But I think they knew just how much craziness ONE baby can cause, let alone two.  And now, all I can say to this idea now is  “What a dumb idea! ”

Reality – The Hospital

Our beautiful baby girls were born weighing five pounds each, a bit premature at 37 weeks.  Our care in Labor & Delivery was wonderful.  I wish we could say the same for our postpartum care.  We didn’t have any help with the girls, and by the time we left Sunday evening (we came in on Friday evening), we had only slept a total of 4 hours since Friday morning.  We were exhausted.  The nurses never offered to take the girls for a few hours because it was the weekend and they were short staffed, and there wasn’t a nursery.  We also were having trouble getting the girls to nurse, so Layla was constantly hungry and tired and did a lot of crying.  I remember bawling when visitors were there out of pure exhaustion.  The greatest gift was when a couple of our friends came and just offered to hold the babies for awhile so Eloy and I could rest.  Eloy slept for like 3 hours.  I was so wound up I couldn’t sleep.

We also didn’t eat very well.  You had to call and order your food, but with two newborns crying at opposite times and eating at opposite times, we kind of forgot to do this.  My husband ate maybe twice while we were at the hospital.  We were so grateful when someone brought some snack food, and another brought us a lasagna – Eloy was so hungry he ate the lasagna straight out of the pan!

We were hoping to stay in the hospital until Monday morning, but at about 8PM Sunday night, the nurse came in and said we had to be out by 11 because insurance wouldn’t pay for anymore time in the hospital.  At this point, the girls were still not nursing, and not having wet diapers, and not sleeping but a few minutes at a time.  Thank goodness a couple of my cousins were there to visit!  They encouraged me to shower (I hadn’t showered since Thursday night…eww!), and they organized getting my prescriptions called in, and took everything out to the car.  Two of my cousins even drove us home.  I don’t think we ever would have made it home without them.

Begging for my Mom’s help

Before we left the hospital, Eloy and I decided that perhaps we needed a little more help than we thought we were going to, so I called my mom asking for her to come and stay the next few days with us.  She said, “I was wondering if you would need some help, so I already have my bag packed.  I will do the supper dishes and then come on down.”  And of course, I bawled.  I was crying so hard I couldn’t talk, so I said goodbye to my mom.  Eloy looked at me  strangely, and asked me if she said no.  Crying even harder, I wailed, “No, she said yes <insert hysterical cries>.”

Letting others fold our underwear, do our dishes, and other household chores

Live-in help.  For the first two to three months of the girls’ lives, we had nearly constant live-in help.  After we got home, my mom stayed with us for several weeks, followed by a two week stay by my older sister Natalie.  When she left, Eloy’s mom Trina visited for almost a month.  After that, my mom came down and stayed for several days at a time, or I had a cousin-in-law who also stayed for a couple nights.  It was an absolute necessity.  The girls were not strong enough to get enough milk by nursing and lost too much weight, so I would nurse one girl for ten minutes and someone would take and give that girl a bottle.  As soon as the first baby was done nursing, I would nurse the other girl for ten minutes, who would get a bottle afterwards.  Then, I would pump for fifteen minutes.  Doesn’t sound too bad, but it was a 15-20 minute battle to get the girls latched on properly sometimes.

And by the time I was done pumping, I had a couple minutes break before it was time to start all over again because they had to eat every two hours.  Getting a single hour of uninterrupted sleep was rare at this point, even at night.  We were sleeping for 15-30 minutes at a time, every few hours.

My job at this point was to nurse the girls, then eat, drink, and rest for a few minutes so I could keep producing milk for the girls.  All other household chores fell on the shoulders of whoever was staying with us, or my husband.  We had so many people who just stopped and offered to help either hold a baby, throw in a load of laundry, or help fold the clean clothes.  They even folded our underwear!  This would have embarrassed me before, but it became the norm.

We loved when people brought us meals.  With twin newborns, there wasn’t time to cook or clean up, so this was a big help.  Helping with dishes was another big help.  One friend would always make sure the kitchen was clean before she left. Another helped me fix and freeze meals.

These are just a few things that people helped us with.  All of this support from friends and family was crucial because it allowed my husband and I to focus on the most important thing – our new baby girls.  I’m not saying it will make your life easy.  Ours sure wasn’t, even with the help!  We barely slept, I only got a shower once every three days, and walked around with puked on clothes.  But I don’t want to think about how it would have been without these friends giving so much of their time and resources.

Moral of the Story

Be humble.  Accept help from anyone and everyone who offers.  Because in the end, you will realize that this extra help is what helped you survive.

 

Click here to read Part 2 of “How we survived newborn twins.”

Housework never gets done until guests are expected.

Dust

Photo by Denise Chan, iDenise.net

Mom?  Or Housekeeper?  This is a question I battle with every day – I want to be successful at both.  I want a house like what you see in the magazines where everything is spotless.  Who am I kidding?  I’d be ok with a floor that doesn’t have the perpetual cracker crumbs that are always sticking to my feet, and where the toys get picked up every night.

I know there are things that have to be done often, like sweep, dishes, laundry.    You have to have clean dishes to eat from, a clean floor so the girls can eat Cheerios from it, and clothes on our backs.  But there are other chores that I sometimes choose not to do just because they aren’t that pressing.  Who cares if there are papers lining the railing on our stairs, or if there are some misplaced drill bits sitting on my hutch?  I know my girls don’t care.  They won’t remember that!

I want them to remember if I stopped to read them a book, give hugs and kisses, or a play a game of “Ring around the Rosies.”  In life there are things that matter and right now those are my two beautiful daughters.  So dust bunnies, you can stay for another week, or maybe two, or maybe until I decide to have some guests over for supper.  But for now, just keep me and my daughters company.