Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Who is more excited?
Hard to tell...
Hours drag on (and on and on.)
Prepare supper with
One eye on the driveway.
Set the table - don't forget
Papa's plate, fork, cup.
Gravel crunches -
You are here!
Bare feet running to see
Who can get to you first.
Squeals of laughter;
Hugs and giggling girls...
Hands washed and then
Here you are.
Hey babe, smiling face;
Strong arms, gentle kiss;
Slow relaxing breath...
Another week done.
You are home!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Choice in birth

When I was pregnant with my first baby in 2003, my husband and I attended a birth class. It was a small class, consisting of just my husband and I and one other couple. The other couple was due two months before me and they were planning a home birth. I was floored! What? Excuse me? People actually have a choice to give birth at home? I thought a home birth was something that happened *on accident* when labor begins and goes sooooooo fast. You know – like they portray it on TV. My husband and I had done research and settled on a birthing center … attached to a hospital. We have learned since that first birth class that being active in choosing how we want to participate in birth makes birthing a better experience.

This choice that had been brought to my attention on where I could choose to birth opened my eyes to the fact that there are all sorts of ways of doing things surrounding birth that I was completely unaware. I had so much more to learn! The first time I heard the word “doula” was during these birthing classes. I learned you could move around during labor. You could eat and drink, walk and squat, sleep and get in a bathtub. One of the most shocking things I learned was about my husband. My husband was actually encouraged to help out during all of the labor and birth. He wasn’t supposed to just sit there and pass out cigars afterwards. Wow. How can this be? I had begun reading all of the books I was supposed to read. I was prepared and excited to meet my baby. I just had no idea that there were other ways in which we could be introduced.

Recently, this choice of where and how to give birth has been brought into the spotlight. This is in part due to media normalizing birth, as the popularity of Ricki Lake’s documentary, “The Business of Being Born” showed. This documentary follows women who are pregnant making choices about birth, in addition to giving statistics on a scope of issues (home birth vs. hospital birth, natural vs. caesarean.) While there are other films out there, this one was available to a wider audience, rather than to people already aware of choice in childbirth. I believe the increased awareness about choice is also due to the fact that more women are talking about birth and their choices with each other. Not only do my friends and I dish weekly about some aspect of childbirth, but also plugging “childbirth” into Google (or Facebook) brings up numerous blogs and websites, in addition to respected magazine articles and books. Growing up, I led a typical life in a small town in the Midwest. I was astonished when my aunt not only chose a birthing center within a hospital but also breastfed while on maternity leave. These two choices she made were so far out there to me as a pre-teen. It was so surprising to discover that I could have an active role in the birth of my children.

I’m so thankful I was able to ask questions and make decisions based on what I learned from many different sources. How many other women are out there, nodding dumbly to the doctor (or midwife or newspaper article) because they don’t know they can have an active role in their birthing decisions? How many other expectant, first-time mamas are like I used to be – ready to believe anything my doctor (or mom or in-laws) said without doing any other research because s/he had to know what was best; after all, s/he had been through childbirth before. While I’m not saying that your doctor (or your mother-in-law) doesn’t have information that is important to consider, rather there are usually safe alternatives that you can choose to make your birth experience more enjoyable to you and your babe.

I now have three children and each birth was a new and different experience. With each one, I have become more confident in both my body and my choices. I’m discovering things I’m excited to try during each pregnancy and labor/birth, but most importantly I am proactive about my births. I ask myself what I want and then find a way to make it happen.

If I hadn't attended those first birth classes, (and read a few different books and talked with other women and midwives…) I would never have known that there are other ways. It’s up to you to decide how you want to celebrate the miracle within you. Ask; discuss; and ponder the different ways you can participate in labor and birth. Take control of bringing your sweet baby “earth-side” and creating the experience you want. Birth is a journey, but if you are knowledgeable in what you want, you’ll enjoy the passage even more.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This matter of choice

As a freshman in high school up until about my freshman year in college, I was never going to get married. Not only that, I was never having kids. Not only that, but I pitied all of those women who chose to get married, have kids and (puke!) stay at home with their children. What kind of archaic society were these women living in? Didn't they get that women were powerful? Women could (and should) work outside of the home? People fought for these freedoms so women wouldn't have to be a slave to the kitchen/husband/child! How can women believe that being married and staying at home is a good thing?

Fast forward ten years or so, and I'm a happily married, stay-at-home mama of three. How can this be? How could I have I turned into the object of my teenage pity? Easy. I chose to.

Choosing a life of matrimony was easy actually, when I met the man I wanted to marry. The man who took my breath away and painted pictures with his words of rocking chairs and old age. Choosing to marry him wasn't so much a choice as when to marry him. Choosing to commit myself to just him for the rest of my life was exciting, reassuring and perfect. "And guess what," I say to teenage me living inside my head, "I'm still me!" I still love to play volleyball. I still enjoy time alone. I still believe in "saving the environment." I'm still a feminist. I just have a new last name (although so does he...) and someone to hold in the night. Through good and bad, poor and poor-er, we're riding this ride called life together, bumps and all. Lucky for me, he's a good driver and even better passenger. Like I said, an easy choice.

Choosing to have children and then stay at home with them was easy too, once I gave up all of my pre-conceived notions of stay-at-home mamas. Birthing my children and raising them to be good people is one of the scariest, difficult, powerful, awesome things I have ever done. And I'm not through yet. There is so much to teach them, so much to learn from them. Apparently, I didn't know everything as a smart-mouth teenager. "But how can I be a feminist and stay at home, just content to be a mama?" the teenager sneers. Because it was a choice I made. I wasn't forced into this. I don't slave over the stove making pot roasts and wear dresses and aprons and make up. (Okay, well I DO make pot roasts ... from our own animals; I DO wear dresses because I like the flirty feel of them; I DO wear aprons simply because my girls want me to match them when we all bake together; and the make up I wear consists of chapstick and glitter..... so perhaps that sentence wasn't exactly what I was looking for to prove my point.) Additionally, I'm not just a mama. I'm an educator, an advocate, a healer of hurts, a role model and a mama. I made this choice because I wanted to raise my children as consciously as possible. Is there a more powerful choice for a feminist mama to make? I didn't give up anything to do this; I'm not losing anything to stay at home. I still sing. I still have girlfriends. I still contribute to the good of society ... I just don't get a paycheck for it. That's okay. Every morning I choose to be the best mama I can be and each night as I tuck my kiddos into bed, I know I've made the right choice to stay at home with them.

So will the holier-than-thou teenage me ever be content with the choices the adult me makes? I think so. And I don't think that being reminded of who I once was is a bad thing. That teenager consumed with thoughts of what the future holds is still an important part of what makes me who I am today. After all, if the teenage me wouldn't have chosen to leave MO for college in VT - would I even be writing this today?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Monthly change

I've just started reading a blog that encourages people to make a small change each month. It's probably supposed to be more of an environmental change (ride your bike to work, take shorter showers...) but I've decided to be selfish and make a small change for myself. My goal is to write everyday. It won't necessarily be new blog posts - because really, who else is out there reading this? (Thanks Kris!!!) I used to journal, so I'm going to do a little of that. My husband is really into poetry, so perhaps I'll dabble in that too. We'll see how it goes. And perhaps next month I'll do something for someone else. Or not. But no matter what, the changes I'm going to make are going to be ones good for my soul.