Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Five Things I Want my Daughters to Know Before They Grow Up

 Before my daughters start puberty, I want to have taught them an understanding of these five truths.

1. Your Body is Awesome, and Will Change In Ways That Give it Power to Do Even More Awesome Things
I loved this post Lani wrote for The Gift of Giving Life Blog on menstruation, Red and Powerful. I had mixed emotions about starting my period when I was 12. I understood that it meant I was growing up and looked to it with a kind of curious anticipation. But I was also influenced by some negative cultural perceptions that said it was a burden. I was embarrassed to tell my mom, though I don't know exactly why, and when I told her and she told me that was wonderful, I didn't really understand what was "wonderful" about it. I want menarche to be celebrated for my girls, maybe not with a party, but a special mom and daughter day out or something. I want them to understand that (and how) menstruation means fertility, and fertility is so powerful.

2. Sex is Sacred, So We Don't Talk About it With Everyone, but Your Parents are People You Can Always ask Questions about Sex
wishing on a dandelion with my older daughter
This post from the marital intimacy blog, Be One, Miss Rain's Moment of Truth tells the story of a mother who felt inspired to talk to her 7 year old daughter about how babies are made one night, and the beautiful conversation that followed. It turns out a friend had said something to her about it ar school a few days before. I hope to be able to talk to my daughters with the same sensitive honesty that this mother showed. All the things discussed here are just exactly as I would want my girls to understand them at about that age.

3. Sex is Extremely Powerful, a Power That Can Be Used For Amazing Good or Terrible Destruction
I don't remember my parents talking to me much directly about sex.  I think they did teach me, but not always in ways I remember concretely.  I remember "the talk" being kind of awkward, though I think they timed it right because I really had no idea about the mechanical details when they told me. But between their teaching and young women and EFY lessons, I must have picked up the most important parts, because around the time I graduated from high school, I wrote this beautiful poem about what what I wanted the day of my wedding to be like. I wrote a lot of (mostly bad) poetry in my teen years, but I think this may be one of the best...

Love and passion flowing free--
Silent tongues sing in ecstasy.
Hands clasp on to what they've found.
Hearts live for another's sound.

Young eyes sparkle, old one's cry.
Loving parents say goodbye.
As both the product and the source
Of Love follows similar course.

More than objects of desire
Consumed by wild passion's fire
Entering the Holy Gate--
Blessed is the choice to wait.

Today is giv'n the guarded gift.
To new heights a Love will lift.
As the flesh is intertwined,
Two souls are forever joined.

I think some of this I figured out for myself. About five months before I wrote this, I had my first kiss. (I suppose some would cosider 17 old for a first kiss and some young...). About a month after it, that relationship ended, his decision, not mine. As you can imagine, it was a painful break up for me (there was an abundance of bad poetry written about it). I realized that if it was that painful to have given a few kisses to a guy and then have it be over, how much more painful would it be to give someone your whole body in an act of love that I believe is meant to bind people together forever and then have them leave you? It just seemed like it would be incredibly painful to me.

I don't want my girls to feel that sex is "bad," but to understand it is a sacred power that is really, really good when used the right way, but harmful when misused.

4. Dressing Modestly is About YOU, Not about Keeping Other People's Thought's Clean
My Beautiful Girls
I want my girls to understand that the cleanliness of other people's thoughts is not their responsibility.  The choice for a woman to dress modestly is a choice to show respect for her body and its power.  She keep its divine power concealed, except for under the right circumstances.  Heather's post Getting Adam to Partake shares the beautiful insights she learned about modesty from her Muslim friends.

5. "You Are Capable of So Much More Than Being Looked At"
This is one of the messages from Beauty Redefined's billboard campaign.  I want my girls to understand all the things Lindsay and Lexie talk about on their blog.  I want them to recognize and reject all the harmful messages about women in the media and to see "beauty" as so much more than just "sex appeal."  I want them to know that beauty includes who they are and all the wonderful things they can do!

* dandelion photo by  J.C. Photography Utah

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Trap of Idealizing the Quiet Birther (Part 3)

Last April, I wrote a short Birth Idealization Traps series.  I would actually like to continue that series now, with  some new perspective on The Trap of Idealizing the Quiet Birther (Click to read Part 1 and Part 2) that I gained from my third birth.

In my third birth, my midwives acted as lifeguards, watching carefully (using some technology as tools to assist in watching) to make sure nothing pathological was happening, and encouraging me to do some preventative measures due to the risk factor of pre-labor rupture of membranes.  Because of PROM, risk of infection was a good reason to limit/avoid cervical checks, and it turns out that there wasn't any reason to do them. 

My midwives saw no need to check to "make sure I was complete" before pushing.  They encouraged me to follow my instincts and push only when I had no other choice but to push.  I instinctively bore down at the peaks of the pressure waves for a while, until I felt an unmistakable urge to push.  "Urge" isn't even the right word.  "Takeover" describes it better.  I couldn't do anything but push.

Like I suspected when I wrote my other two posts, during my third birth, I was, in fact, a very vocal pusher.  Unlike in my second birth, I was not told to hold my breath and put my chin to my chest to push.  In following my instincts, I did not hold my breath or curl my head forward.  I opened my mouth and let sound escape my body, and boy, did it!  Watching the video now, I am even a little surprised with how loud I was.  I have some technical difficulties with my digital camcorder (I think I need software to load the video, but I must have lost the CD), so I don't have the video to share, but believe me when I say I was LOUD. And no, I was not screaming in pain.  Hypnobabies was absolutely working for me.  There may have been some pain when I lost my rhythm in reaction to changes in how things felt as my body first began pushing, but I experienced the sensations of my baby emerging as mostly stretching and fullness, and  I did not experience burning or a "ring of fire" sensation at crowning.  It was really like I couldn't help making noise.  It was what came naturally to me, and I wouldn't change a thing about it.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

144 Capsules of Awesome (or, What I Did With My Placenta)

This post contains "graphic" images of a human placenta, as well as discussion of the ingestion of placenta.  If you don't want to read about these things, then don't read it.  If you still choose to read it, then you can't say I didn't warn you...

I intentionally made the first picture of this post benign-looking for the purpose of thumbnails, on facebook etc, and to avoid shocking those who may stumble upon this post who actually don't want to see the graphic photos.
This is the lid of the jar from my placenta pills.

Lets begin with some interesting things about this placenta.  It was on the large size, as placenta's go.  Here is a picture of the fetal side, with the umbilical cord branching into a "Tree of Life"

Placenta: Fetal Side
Placenta: Maternal side
What is different about this placenta was the maternal side.  It was more...lumpy than normal.  I don't know the correct scientific words to describe this phenomenon.  It was all divided up into separate pieces.  

One possible explanation I heard for this is that it could be nutrition-related and that it is usually associated with small babies.  My daughter, though not really small, at 6 lbs 11 oz, was a whole 15 oz lighter than her brother, my biggest.   She has put on weight really quick, though.  She's 11 lbs 9 oz at 2 months!

Another unsual thing was my baby's umbilical cord, which I didn't get a picture of.  She had a short cord, so short that the only way I could hold her in the water with the cord attached was right against mychest.

Placenta: Maternal Side, another view
The midwives noticed a small gush of blood in the water as the baby was born, and they also said said that her cord did not pulse as long as they typically do.  They think they discovered why when they examined the cord later.  The cord appeared to be damaged. It had three spots, right near each other, where the Wharton's jelly was missing.  They think this damage must have been what caused the blood and the shorter pulsing time.  They said that they had only seen one other cord like that, which was also a short cord, and those spots were right around where the cord had snapped in two as that baby was being born.

So, on to what I did with the placenta.  When I first heard of placentophagy, I thought it was totally gross.  I thought burying it under a tree might be more my style.  But then I had depression in my pregnancy, and wanted to do anything I could to avoid having it postpartum as well.  Although I was hesitant to do something with so little human research evidence, the logic behind it made sense to me and I figured that I didn't really have anything to loose.  Human placenta pills have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years.  I have a friend who is also a doula and childbirth educator, who recently started training to become a midwife.  And she's a placenta encapsulation specialist.

"After" Picture
My husband heard me tell the midwives that I was considering having this friend encapsulate my placenta, and he asked me why I had to be so weird.  He feels having a homebirth is weird enough, why do I have to go doing things like eating placenta? (Yes, he still thinks homebirth is weird, even after catching our daughter in a plastic pool in our bedroom.  Still thinks its weird, but understands why I prefer it.)

My friend came by about a week after the baby was born to prepare the placenta.  The process is pretty simple.  I watched and we chatted about the birth.  She stuffed the membranes with lemon, ginger, and jalapeno (in attempt to negate the post-pill burp issue) and steamed the placenta (steaming causes it to shrink considerably).

Next, she removed the membranes and diced it up and put it on a foil-lined cookie sheet, which she put in the oven set at the lowest temperature.  She told me to check it after about 8 hours to see if the pieces easily snapped in half, and then to turn it off.  She came the next day to grind it and put it into capsules.  It became 144 placenta pills.

I do believe that taking the pills during the first month postpartum was helpful for me, if nothing else but to increase my iron levels (as I was anemic during pregnancy).  I have had really good postpartum experience, but I've never had issues with feeling depressed after my other births (only ever had a problem during this pregnancy), so it may have nothing to do with the placenta, but I think it has helped at least some.  I take them occasionally now when I feel run down or emotional, and it could be placebo, but it seems to help.  I still have quite a few left.  I have no regrets about doing it.