Friday, May 11, 2012

my baby library

Warning! Long blog post ahead! 

This is a post I've wanted to write for a while but have been hesitant to do so. 

Let me just say this: 

The decisions every pregnant woman makes about her pregnancy, birth, and baby is her own. The relationship between each woman and her growing baby is unique and different from the next. No one should ever be made to feel like a "bad" mother simply because her choices are different than someone else's. That's all part of the journey and adventure of motherhood. 

We get to make these important choices.
We learn as we go, we do our best, and we try to be understanding of and patient with others. 

This post is just to share what Chas and I feel personally feel good about in regards to little cryings.

If you do things differently, that's totally fine. 
If you're weirded out by some of this, that's totally fine too. 
This is only what we've come to really love in our preparation for being parents. 


After we first found out we were expecting, it became very important to me that, together, Chas and I did as much research, study, and preparation as we could for being parents. 

I've spent the last seven years of my life devoted to trying to be the best therapist I can possibly be. I've worked long hours, spent 10's of thousands of dollars on advanced education, studied my brains out, written a thesis, and have been wholly devoted to the clinical care of others. In short, I've stretched myself not only intellectually but personally as well in my journey to be good at my job. 

So if I've done all that, why wouldn't I put in the same amount of work and preparation for the most important job ever? 

So Chas and I set out to work. 
And here's what we found. 

1. The Business of Being Born

I was only a few weeks pregnant when we casually decided to watch this movie on Netflix one night.
We knew nothing about it but thought we might as well give it a go. 

This movie blew our minds. Knocked our socks right off. 

Before this movie, I thought midwives, natural birthing, and especially home births were for the chaco-wearing, granola crunching, hippy dippies. 
After this movie, Chas and I were seriously considering birthing centers and, if we had our own house, would probably have looked closely into the option of doing a home birth. (Crazy, I know.)

As it turns out, we are giving birth in a hospital but with a midwife (who we love).

I just loved how much this movie opened our eyes to a whole new way of viewing birth. It made me excited to explore all the possibilities for my birth that I had never before considered. It gave us new knowledge about birth and, with that, came a new feeling of power and ownership for our future birth experience. 

I'd also venture to say that this movie was the springboard for Chas and I wanting to learn more about methods of birthing and parenting that challenge the "normal" way of doing things in this country.

2. -- 4. The Aware Baby, Tears and Tantrums, and Helping Young Children Flourish 

I will be forever grateful to my sweet cousin's wife (a licensed clinical social worker) for recommending these books. 

First, let me say that I know, based on the cover art design of these books, they look ancient and hokey. I know. It's hard but just try to move past the out-dated covers. It's so worth it. 

Out of all the parenting books I've read, this series has the only books that ring completely true with everything I know as a therapist and professor of stress management. 

In fact, I remember reading the author's explanation of the physiological reaction that happens in our body when we feel stress and realizing that some of her description was word-for-word the same as the way I explain those concepts in my classes. I think that's when the love affair with The Aware Baby officially started. 

The basis of all three of these books is quite different from anything else I've read but, at the same time, feels exactly right on. 

Essentially, "Aware Parenting" revolves around the idea that children's entire range of emotions should be accepted and lovingly listened to without judgement. Babies and children should be allowed to freely express their sadness, anger, or frustration through crying and/or raging. 
After all their immediate needs are met, crying can serve as an important means of releasing stress. 

Have you ever had a really good cry? Have you ever had someone sit with you, listen to you, or hold you while you let out pent up stress/anger/sadness through crying without trying to solve the problem or stop you from crying? Have you ever experienced how loved, validated, and calm you feel after having a good cry with a trusted loved one? 

That's one of the main principles that "Aware Parents" offer their babies and/or children. 
And, speaking as a therapist, being able to learn how to fully accept, experience, and release difficult emotions in a safe, effective way is such a huge, huge life skill with far-reaching effects. 

All three books are great. I'd suggest starting with The Aware Baby and going from there. 
For a more brief overview of this style of parenting, check out the website here
Browse through the articles here as well. 

5. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

I'm someone who appreciates consistency and schedules. Both of which, I believe, are important for children as well. 

I like this book because it gives a really detailed outline of what to expect sleep-wise for your baby at very specific intervals/stages of life. 

I don't agree with everything in this book but I definitely plan on referencing it many times as little cryings grows and her sleeping needs change. 

6. Birthing From Within

This book is an art therapist's dream.

Again, while I don't agree with everything this book advocates, I do really appreciate the way this book explains how to use art as a way to explore your own personal feelings and fears about your pregnancy and birth. 

One night, Chas and I busted out some paper and oil pastels and, together, created some "birth art" drawings as described in the book. It was a really unique and wonderful way of discovering our thoughts and emotions surrounding little cryings. When we were finished with our drawings, we took time to explain to each other what everything in the drawing symbolized and the meaning it held for us.  
It was a really special experience to have together.

We've tacked the drawings to the refrigerator and I love that I now have that powerful imagery in my mind in preparation for birth. 

7. Hypnobirthing

This is probably the book that's most familiar to others. 

While I want to have a natural birth, and am preparing to do so, I also realize that since this is my first experience, I have no idea what to expect. But that's ok. I'm still doing all I can to confront the fear of natural birthing, move past it, and fill my mind with positive thoughts and real physical techniques to cope with the pain.

Having said that, I also want to be as open as I can to whatever happens during my labor and delivery. If, for whatever reason, I decide to get an epidural, I want to feel that that is totally acceptable as well. 

I will say that Hypnobirthing is the only birthing book that has made me genuinely excited to have the experience of giving birth. I love that. 


One last thing. 
This one may put you over the edge. 

I'm going to keep my placenta and have it encapsulated so I can take it in pill form. 


I know it sounds crazy but here's the thing:
I think it's going to be awesome and the benefits of ingesting your placenta are more than convincing for us. 

I've talked to women who have done this and, again, done some research on it. 
The testimonials I've heard first-hand are more than convincing. They are amazing. 

Benefits of doing this for the first few weeks after birth include: 
replenishes your iron
gives you more energy
helps with postpartum depression
lessens postnatal bleeding
increases milk production
balances your hormones 

Ummm, yes please? 

This is a great website to learn more about placenta encapsulating and this short video clip does an excellent job of explaining more about the scientifically-proven benefits.

If you can think of it as just taking a pill, and nothing more, then it doesn't seem nearly as bizarre. 

When I first told my mom about it, her response was, "Woah! Where can I get me some of those gross-y pills?!" 
Couldn't have said it better myself. 


So there you have it. 
I hope, if nothing else, some of this has peaked your curiosity or made you motivated to do your own study and research and find what feels most right for you. 

Happy pregnancy, birthing, and parenting!


meme-and-he said...

dude, I am all for it. I would definitely be interested in doing that! I have heard so many benefits! If I may ask, is it very expensive?

Rae Veda said...

I want to read all of these now. And I'm not even pregnant. xo, rv

Bethany G said...

Beautifully written. I have been wanting to write a post similar, as we have chosen a natural route also for this babe.. but it feels so intimidating to write out!!
Well done!
So excited that our babies will be here SO SOON! :)

Meredith Tuttle said...

i had a natural birth in a hospital and although i used a doctor, i also had a doula and it rocked. it so was NOT as bad as everyone says and immediately afterwards i felt uh-mazing! good luck! ps:the business of being born was one of my faves as well as birthing from within :)

mama boss said...

I used hypno-birthing twice so far. Loved it. Once in the hospital and once at home. (And planning a 2nd home-birth for baby #4 this fall.) The breathing techniques are extremely helpful, and the soft touch massage really does wonders (like, I had a completely painless contraction during my home-birth because of it.)

Maria said...

I am NO where near having a baby but I loved the business of being born!

Joo Lin said...

Well written Sam! I am very excited for you two, and I'm very happy you are so in tune with yourselves, each other, and Little Cryings. I appreciate your openness and honesty. Good luck!

Rachael said...

I am all for doing natural births, but I am glad you are doing it in the hospital, where there are doctors present if needs be. I just had my first baby, and if we had done it at home, both my baby and I would not have survived. Good luck with everything! I want to take a look at those pills, I had no idea you could do that! Here is my blog if you want to read my birth story.

Megs said...

I've been planning all along on a birth as "natural" as possible. A friend just gave birth in her home with a midwife and doula, and she also had her placenta encapsulated. After talking with her about her experience (and even watching the birth video!), I am blown away by how taking that route just made her more calm and excited about the birth. She was never nervous, afraid of pain, or concerned about what might go wrong. I am so excited to hear about your experience!

Emily said...

I love love love it when I see someone going a more natural route for their birthing experience. A baby is still a couple years away for me, but you ladies give me courage that I can do it when I'm in your place. Thanks for sharing!!

Janssen said...

I loved this post. I had a hospital birth with a midwife (and an epidural, five minutes after I got to the hospital) and it was amazing. I wish they had more midwife-assisted hospital births in Austin. I'll have to figure out what I want to do for a next baby.

It is really amazing to me to see how babies flourish in all sorts of environments (like, Babywise made me want to throw up, but I have many dear friends with very good babies who swore by it and think it's the Bible. So clearly it worked for them). It really is so individual, I think.

And a big amen to Healthy Sleep Habits.

Danita said...

You also neeeed to read "Creating Your Birth Plan" by Marsden Wagner. It's a great book to read that helps you write down exactly what you're hoping for, which is especially important since you're giving birth in a hospital. Even though you have a midwife, s/he still has to follow hospital regulations--which includes inducing or augmenting your labor if you have "failure to progress" within THEIR time frame. Be assertive!

Danita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Health, art, and the girl gamer said...

I can tell you with 100 percent certainly DO IT placenta wise. I got BAD pp depression and couldn't fathom living. After I finally listened to a friend I got deer placenta, and literally in 4 days it was gone. I had to keep taking it for maintenance, to 'cultivate jing' energy, but now take he shou wu and schizandra ( other herbs). I could rave for hours about how grateful I am to be alive and the difference I felt after taking the placenta.

Nicole said...

love it

Alexis Kaye said...

I really want to see the business of being born. I've heard it's awesome. I have been reading the Gift of Giving Life. Seriously, it's amazing. You should totally read it. It's brand new. It's written by LDS doctors/doulas/nurses whatever about the divinity of birth and our callings as mothers. I'm about halfway through it right now and I love it. One of my favorite things about it is that it talks about your birth being a spiritual experience, which I had never even thought of! READ IT!!! :D