Sunday, January 15, 2012

15 Jan

Home for the first full day since Daddy had two craniotomies last week. Jeff is at work. Cooper and I are hanging out while Cade naps. Cooper hugged me around my neck and said “Mama I love you come home”. I knew what he meant. Grateful doesn’t seem to be a big enough word to describe how I feel. So many emotions… happy, present, aware, gentle, scared, fragile, loved, tired, heartache, pain, grateful, happy, content, fulfilled… I’ve run the gamete of emotions this week. I’ve learned a LOT. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve missed a lot. I’m sitting here looking around our home through joyful eyes. Now more than ever I want to make every second count. I know I’ll blink and my babies will be grown men with families of their own. But I’m also aware that with each breathe our lives can change. I have so much to be grateful for. I’m so filled up, so joyful. Patience. Calm. Love. Wonder. With open eyes and an open heart, I plan to live the rest of my days.


Baby’s First…

14 Dec

“The way we are born influences our whole lives.” ~ Alyona Lebedeva

Not only does the way we’re born have influence but what happens immediately after birth directly affects a babies ability to make his or her transition into the living, breathing world.  Failure to allow mother nature to run it’s course can (and too often does) result in babies needing assistance in transitioning and beginning to breathe on their own.

I’m sure this is going to be a controversial post.  I’m writing it because we need change.  We need families to educate themselves and to want and expect a gentle birth.  Not only for themselves but for their babies.  Our babies deserve it.  Women deserve it.

We place so much value in our baby’s first moments… their first smile, the first time they roll over, their first steps.  So why isn’t more value placed in our baby’s first breathe?  Isn’t that the most important first your baby will ever have?  Too many babies are being born into chaos.  And way too many babies are being subjected to undue stress during labor from unnecessary interventions.  All mothers, all families want what is best for their babies.  We want them to be healthy, happy, safe, loved…  Shouldn’t we ensure these things during the labor process?  And especially as they are born?

This is a short video of pictures taken during a home birth.  Yes, I know home birth is not for everyone.  I’m not posting it because it’s a home birth.  I’m posting it because I want to showcase baby’s first moments.  Baby’s first breath and the first hour or so after the birth.  Notice the baby is given to Mama immediately.  There is no suctioning, no rubbing.  Baby is given to Mama and learns to breath by listening and syncing its breath with hers.  After baby has been with Mama for those first precious minutes (and after the cord has stopped pulsating on it’s own) the cord is clamped and cut and the baby is handed to Dad, who is also shirtless, to bond with him, skin to skin.  Can you think of anything more sweet than the first time you hold your newborn baby skin to skin?  This is the first time you bond in the physical world with your sweet baby.  Another precious first that cannot be replaced.  After the baby has breastfed, probably at least 30 minutes to an hour after the birth, the midwife measures and weighs the baby and does the overall check.


Now, here is a video of what happens to babies immediately after birth in hospitals. (Not all hospitals. This is usually what happens when a baby is born with an OB vs. a midwife and midwives do work at hospitals in the U.S.)


Chilling isn’t it?  It makes my stomach hurt, my chest tighten to watch this.  To be honest I can’t even watch the whole thing.  Personally I feel that most mothers don’t want this for their babies.  Whether you have a natural birth or a medicated one, your instincts when your baby is born are to hold your baby, to soothe it’s cry (if they are crying), to kiss them, to hug them, to tell them you love them…  No mother wants to watch from the other side of the room as this is being done to her newborn baby.  No mother wants this to be her baby’s first glimpse of the world, right?

Everything the hospital does immediately after birth from clamping the cord as soon as the baby is born to weighing the baby to measuring and doing the baby’s footprints… it can all wait.  It’s done immediately in hospitals because they are on the clock.  They are “working”.  Getting their “job” done.  This is your baby we are talking about.  This is your birth.

Whether your have your baby in a hospital or at home should not matter as to how you and your baby are treated.  Especially however, if you have your baby in the hospital, help make birth better, safer and more gentle for babies and mothers.  Educate yourself.  Follow your instincts.  Listen to your heart.  Give your baby the best first they will ever have.  Sweet, gentle cuddles with his Mama.  Kisses, hugs, and love.

Please share this with any woman you care about so that we can help women and babies get the labor and the birth they deserve.

The Joys of December

2 Dec

Haven’t had a lot of free time to blog lately so I’m writing this from my iPhone. Gotta love technology!
I’m sitting on the sofa with my oldest, Cooper, and we’re watching NickJr in the light of our Christmas tree. I was thinking about how much I love December. Everything is just good. Happiness is everywhere. Joy is abundant. Normally at 9pm I’d be doing everything I could to get little man in bed and asleep. But it’s December. The tree is lit. The house smells like pines (from the lovely candles!). And the feeling in the house is peaceful. Yes, I love this month.
I met a lovely woman in November that started me on a path of ‘cultivating gratitude’ and now that it’s December and gratitude seems to be flowing so easily I find myself wondering if I’m going to be able to keep this new way of thinking going after all the fun Holiday happiness has ended? I know one thing, I won’t lack for trying. I can honestly say I feel a little more happy each day as I am looking on the bright side of things instead of drowning myself in pessimism.
I’m honestly happy in this moment. The tree is lit. My wine is poured. My baby is asleep. My toddler is dancing to The Fresh Beat Band.
It’s a mighty fine night. Happy Friday! And Happy December.
p.s. iPhone pic taken before tree was actually decorated 🙂


The Sisterhood of the Traveling Placenta

21 Nov

You know you’re a birth junkie when you can add “placenta courier” to your job title.  Recently I had the honor of delivering a brand new placenta South to be encapsulated.  My tribe and I are always joking about the funny birth stuff that comes out of our mouths when we’re together, things like: “hey don’t let me forget my placenta, it’s in your freezer” and the response “ok well make sure you get the right one because two of mine are in there!”…  You get the idea, right?  In the Caul Birth Services is going to be blogging about this stuff so if you want to laugh your tooshie off reading just how addicted we are to birth check out and follow her blog, she’ll be posting about these comments soon.  So anyhow, I knew when I offered to carefully transport this very important package, I had to document it’s travels.  I packed up my 7d and we hit the road.  First stop: placenta’s home.  Safely packaged in a top of the line cooler I sat him in the front floor board with me and we hit the road.

Having two boys I don’t get a lot of alone time so I was super excited for this time, in the car, blasting the radio, singing like I’m auditioning for American Idol (in which I’d be one of the hilarious outtakes since I sound like a dying cat when I sing).  Nonetheless I sang my heart out.  I was singing, thinking and driving.  It didn’t take long to make it out into the country.  As I was driving and thinking I noticed the sun was shining down on the pavement just so that it looked like a million diamonds were sparkling back up at me.  I recently learned a little bit about cultivating gratitude and in that moment I was grateful for this beautiful Sunday afternoon, for the sun and the warm Fall air coming through the windows.

All of a sudden, we made it.  We had arrived at our destination safely.  Shew (wiping the sweat from my brow).  His next ride South was already there and waiting.  Notice the top of the line cooler…

Now we all know that no road trip is complete without tacky tourist pictures, right?  Just thought this one was a must.

And of course all road trips require bathroom breaks.  For everyone.

Oh wait, there’s one more cutie I just had to get a picture of…

Yes, kids were involved in the transport of this placenta.  Kids are quite often involved in just about everything we do together.  My Tribe consists of six of the most amazing women I know and a total of twelve children with one on the way.  We all love that our children are so involved in our birth stuff.  We all know and trust that showing our children that birth is normal will help change come about, for them and hopefully for their children and so on.  My friend and I chatted a little about the previous night’s event and then we hit the road.  She, taking the placenta with her to it’s next destination and me heading back north.

I really enjoyed my little road-trip.  Singing, thinking, driving and just being alone for a few hours.  Sometimes being alone can really help you refresh.  I’m honored and thankful that I was trusted for this very important journey.  I’m blessed for the women in my life and the women I got to help on Sunday.  And I’m lucky to have an amazing husband who happily kept our two boys so I could make this trip – alone.  It was relaxing and refreshing and I can’t wait to hear how much this little placenta is going to help out my dear friend in her postpartum.

The Blessingway, Paving The Way For Our Daughters

20 Nov

Beautiful words written by a dear, sweet friend.  Enjoy.

The Blessingway, Paving The Way For Our Daughters.

The Family Bed

15 Nov

We’ve had a rough go with sleep and our first son, Cooper. Since the day he was born he’s hated to sleep and when he did sleep, it couldn’t be alone. A lot of people say that’s our fault and to some degree I guess I agree, but not totally. When you have your first child all you want to do is hold them. One little whimper from them and you jump to soothe them. I still jump to soothe my second baby too but I’ll admit my stomach doesn’t knot at his every murmur as it did with my first.
Cooper wasn’t easy as an infant. He would fall asleep easily at the breast but as soon as I tried to lay him down he’d wake up screaming. His first ten months were spent in our bed. We then moved him into his crib because he moved so much we weren’t getting any sleep. The move was tough.
Recently before his little brother was born we moved him into his big boy room with a new big boy bed (a full size double bunk that he and his brother will share one day). It actually went quite smoothly. We were thrilled!
Well not so fast there Mama and Daddy. There is a list of things that Cooper has decided he no longer wants to do since his little brother arrived, at the top of that list are 1: no more peepeeing in the potty/no more big boy pants and 2: no more sleeping in his big boy bed. Cade is almost 18 weeks old now and has been sleeping like an angel in his crib since he was about 4-5 weeks old. And pretty much since then Cooper has been back in bed with us. Now at his age, 28 months, I’m willing to let him cry a little before falling asleep. But guess what? He screams so loud, he wakes up the baby. Then I have two screaming kids awake. No, that’s not feasible. So we give in and let him in bed with us. To the point now that after he’s fallen asleep and we try to move him back to his bed he wakes and starts screaming again. Ok, ok, back to Mama and Daddy’s bed.
At first having him back in our bed was driving me crazy. Now I don’t mind as much. Yes, it cuts into our alone time, making it practically zero. But this little guy has my heart. He honestly tries to sleep but for whatever reason he can’t. Heck I’m 33 and still have trouble falling asleep. I love having him snuggle up close to me, playing with my hair and sometimes he even wants to ‘skwatch yer back Mommy’. These are the moments I cherish. The 2am kick in the jaw, not so much.
So, even though we never thought we would be, we’re still co-sleeping, 28 months after this amazing boy came into our lives. My husband jokes that maybe we can get him back in his bed by the time he’s 8 or 9. Not funny I say.
Some babies need to snuggle, to be near someone to sleep. Some babies need their space. I have one of each. And I thank God for both of them every day. (right before I ask him to give me more sleep).

Amy, Evan, Izzy and… | Richmond, VA Maternity Photographer

12 Nov

I photographed the cutest darn couple last weekend.  They are a nurse and a doctor expecting their first baby, a little girl.  As of now they already have a baby, her name is Izzy and some would say she looks a lot like a Golden Retriever!  The four of us had a great time, it was a beautiful Autumn day (Amy’s favorite season!) in the park.  Here are a few images from the session.  I’ll be photographing their newborn sometime in December so be sure to check back!

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