My Birth Center Experience

The day I officially found out I was pregnant I had already known for at least a day.  Just a mothers sense I guess, but I bought the pee stick anyway and was thrilled to see those two pink lines appear. Before that moment I hadn’t done much research on birthing options in my area. By a thin thread I heard about a local birthing center and decided to check it out. My husband and I went in for a group tour and fell in love with the place. The professionalism, the holistic approach, the people, the facility itself, and the overall vibe; It could not have been more perfect. Once we found out that using the center would actually be cheaper than going to a hospital we were all in.   

The experience of using a birth center is so much different from going to an OB and hospital. I have a 10 year old son who was born in a hospital and it is not a fond memory. It was not the most terrible story ever told, but the atmosphere was cold and lonely and the support from the hospital staff was practically non-existent. It was nearly the opposite at the birthing center. The center itself always felt welcoming and we got to know the entire staff from visit to visit so that every time we went in for an appointment, we were greeted by friends. During my pregnancy this time around I was expecting lots of doctors visits, many uncomfortable exams, cup fulls of pee, long waits in the doctor office lobby, and an overall poking and prodding. It was a nice surprise to find out that the birth center preferred to use a more holistic and hands off approach.There weren’t nearly as many appointments and the peeing in a cup and vaginal exams were at a minimum.

At first, the limited appointments and tests felt like a lack of attention and it was a bit concerning to me because…  What if something was wrong? What if my baby was sick?  What if she wasn’t developing properly? What if something was wrong with me? However, after the first trimester was over, I realized that the “lack of attention” I was feeling was not actually a lack. It was the perfect amount of attention because nothing was wrong with me or my baby. She was perfectly healthy and so was I and there were absolutely no red flags that suggested otherwise. This meant no additional attention was needed. The excess attention I had gotten at the OB my first pregnancy had shaped my view of it. I felt as though pregnancy was more of a medical condition that needed constant monitoring. I realized through my birth journey at the birthing center that pregnancy is actually more natural than medical. The female body is an amazing thing and was designed to accomplish the process of birth. (Dude bodies have their own miraculous entities too, but, in my opinion, nothing trumps the miracle of birth)

In general, the unknown is worrisome and can cause an anxious fear which is what, I think, many people that don’t support birthing centers suffer from. After having successfully used one, I totally understand that anxiety but I am so glad I stuck it out til the end. Although the minimalist approach to the care was unusual and a little scary at first, it really allowed me to appreciate what my body was able to accomplish on its own. It also allowed me to get in tune with myself and find my center which ensured me that everything was as it should be. I felt that if something were wrong, I would know because I could hear my instincts and intuition. Through it all I uncovered a dormant understanding that pregnancy and birth are such cool processes, not always fun, and a bit terrifying at its climax, but amazing nonetheless.

Before we could deliver at the center, my husband and I were required to take a few different classes about birth, breastfeeding, and newborn care. The requirement might seem kind of weird but I loved all the classes and didn’t mind at all that they were required. Actually, I think it was a great way to help new families develop a real understanding for how incredible the whole thing is. My husband and I learned so much and met a lot of great people during these classes. Our confidence level was increased and it gave us a sense of preparedness that can be hard to feel when you’re about to have a baby.

When it came time for the big event, we were more than ready. Our baby girl was overdue by 5 days that felt like forever. The whole event had a slow start because there was no dramatic episode of my water breaking or intense contractions. We spent most of the day bumming around our apartment watching Netflix and cuddling. I had been leaking some fluids for a few hours and decided to call the midwife. She had us come in to the center and confirmed my water had indeed broken. From that point on, things escalated quickly. Our midwife was well versed in a variety of methods for encouraging labor to progress and the birth ended up only being about 3 hours long.

I’m not going to say that my having my daughter was easy. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. When I had my son, I was given pain meds and an epidural so although I remember the contractions hurting like hell, the birth itself was rather quick and painless. All I remember feeling was pressure and the super weird gush of life as he made his big debut. Since the birth center was focused on natural pain relief, there were no pain meds and no epidurals. That single factor was probably my biggest hang up when we were choosing where to have our baby. The thought of no drugs both terrified me and gave me a sense of challenge. If I had not had the support from the midwives, I would have caved in and demanded to be sedated. Even during the labor I had thoughts of throwing in the towel and going next door to the hospital. Going through with it anyway, without sedation, allowed me to experience something indescribable. Something like an out of this world experience. Something that truly gave me a respect for all women throughout time who have participated in vesseling new life into the world. I entered another realm of reality where even though I was surrounded by movement and noise — even making most of the noise — things were quiet and slow moving. I gave everything I had to getting this kid into the world and had never been more depleted in my life.  Looking back on it and understanding that women have been doing that for centuries, blows my mind.

Being at the birth center was so comforting after my previous experience with a hospital.  Our midwife was so focused on my needs and encouraged us to move about our suite to find what was most comfortable and relieving. We had a resort-like birthing suite at our disposable with many options for natural pain relief. My favorite was probably the walk in shower. There were also different chairs, stools, squatting bars, exercise balls, and a deep soaking tub that I was able to deliver in. Not many hospitals will allow a mother to actually give birth in these and having a water birth was something I always wanted to do. I liked the thought that my baby could be born into a less harsh environment with a few moments to acclimate before emerging into the cold air.

The staff at the birth center were not only accommodating and supportive about my needs during labor, but they were also just as gung-ho about the baby’s needs after birth. The midwives were so encouraging about bonding time that they immediately handed me my baby girl for skin to skin cuddles as soon as she was born. Then, once I was moved to the bed (still cuddling my newborn baby!), my husband and I cuddled with her for at least an hour before the midwives came back to get her stats. Any vitals that were checked within that first hour were checked with her on my chest because that first hour of life is a critical time for boding. The approach of the center was extremely focused on ensuring an individualized birth experience and the most favorable start for a new life. It is difficult to explain in words how great it was to be taken care of by people that were so focused on providing the best overall experience possible.

Using a birth center ended up being exactly what I wanted. Most of the time I have an idea of how an event or experience will unfold and, almost always, it ends up being nearly the opposite of my vision. But not this time. The warmth and love was something I had always imagined feeling but unsure if it existed in this type of setting. There are not enough words to express the gratitude I have towards the entire thing. I could not have asked for a better birth experience and would recommend a credible birth center to anyone considering a natural birth.

 

Babies Cry and That’s Okay

Recently I had an experience worth analyzing while working as a cashier for a local breakfast and brunch cafe. The location of the cafe is in a upscale town so as you can probably imagine, the majority of customers is of a certain demographic… You know, the kind of people that actually plan to eat brunch. 

The whole thing happened towards the end of the lunch rush when things were beginning to slow down and people were clearing out from the restaurant. Although this is the time when things ease up for most other employees, it’s the time when cashiering can become quite busy as everyone decides they must all leave at the same time in standard mass exodus fashion as some of my co-workers describe it.

As I was checking people out and working the line smaller and smaller there was a baby crying in the background at a table. To me, this is no big deal, babies cry, it’s basically their only real means of communication. So about my business I went, hardly giving a second thought to the crying baby until the mother brought the baby to the front of the restaurant.

It’s obvious to me that the mom was trying to soothe her without disrupting the surrounding customers dining experience. This act alone I found to be very considerate and immediately felt a soft spot for this mom who was obviously a bit disheveled trying to calm the baby. I made sure to shoot her a supportive smile when we made a brief eye contact because I’ve been there before. It can be stressful when your baby starts crying in a public place, not so much out of concern for the baby, but more so because we hear all the time about people who relentlessly complain and make a big stink about crying babies. It can feel very lonely in these situations because you never know who is going to offer help and who is jumping at the bit to criticize someone. And boy do people love to criticize other people.

Unfortunately it seems, for every 100 kind and considerate people, there always ends up being that one person that is just plain thoughtless and rude. My feelings on people have jumped around from extremes as I’ve grown up. There was the “people scare me/social anxiety” phase, the “I love people!” phase, the “everyone is out to get me and people suck” phase, and all the transitional phases in between. Nowadays I’ve begun to settle on the understanding that the majority of people don’t intend to be nasty or mean and most are kind and thoughtful. Those handful out there that leave you feeling flabbergasted and irate are simply living in oblivion. Chances are they have no clue they’ve been offensive unless you point it out.  

Using my ratio of considerate to thoughtless people, the restaurant on an average weekend sees about 600-700 patrons, so a handful of, let’s call them cheeky customers, is to be expected. Somehow, even knowing that there will always be those few individuals who are oblivious to the feelings of other people, it can still catch you off guard at the lack of consideration some people have for their fellow humans.

So, as this mom is pacing the front of the restaurant to calm the crying baby, an older woman comes up to the register to check out. There are maybe two others in front of her so she stands and the counter to wait her turn. While she waits, she proceeds to stare at this mom and baby in the waiting area. And not just a sympathetic glance here and there, but a full on stare, like, you can tell she’s planning to say something. Considering how uncomfortable it made me, I can only imagine how disconcerting it must have been for the mom. 

Finally it was the older woman’s turn to check out and she was so determined to be minding other people’s business that she was completely unaware that I was talking to her. Once she realized it was her turn she somewhat broke her gaze at the mom and baby duo enough to acknowledge I was speaking to her. I gave her the total and she looked at me dumbfounded. She was so busy gawking that, although standing at the checkout counter, she had forgotten she was there to pay. After handing me her card she finally spoke up about the crying baby. She sort of spoke to me and the mom at the same time, officially making me a part of the situation, saying, “Oh, the poor baby….”.

Okay. This didn’t seem to bad. She’s offering some sympathy. At least she’s spoken now and the weird gazing is over with. It also seemed to ease some of the mom’s discomfort because it gave her the opportunity to explain that her baby was hungry but refused to take a bottle unless it was just the right temperature. She was just waiting for the bottle to warm up in a cup of hot water at the table. I took this as an opportunity to ease any embarrassment she might have felt by smiling and making a joke about her having a picky eater on her hands. She laughed and agreed and decided to go check on the bottle. Phew, I was glad all that awkwardness was over with… or so I thought.

Once the mom was back at the table the older lady continued mumbling about the “poor baby”. Honestly, it was a bit weird. I didn’t understand the lady’s obsession with the crying baby. She finally engaged with me while signing her receipt and I made the mistake of commenting about hungry babies. It was at this point, somehow, this little old lady managed to kick her foot right up into her mouth.

“I just feel bad for the baby,” she said. This threw me. I was confused and it was all over my face that I was confused so she continued, “Just take the poor thing home,” she said “why are you keeping it out when it’s crying, it wants to go home”. “That poor baby,” she repeated as I stared at her, amazed by the lack of compassion. Although I was taken aback by these comments I’m not one to allow my personal feelings on a matter control my actions, especially when I’m at work. Expressing lots of self control, I managed to keep the floodgates of irritation closed as she looked at me expectantly, as if I was supposed to agree with her.

While she was going on about the “poor baby” the phone behind me began to ring right on cue. Yes! A super easy way out of this situation! Even though I was happy to have an easy exit,  I also felt like this lady’s thinking was so backwards that I wouldn’t be any better of a person if I didn’t somehow point it out. Of course, being at work already had me holding my tongue as well as trying to hold my facial expressions as best I could although I’ve been told I’m not great at that part.

I settled for looking the lady dead in the face with a raised eyebrow and a dissolved smile and responded, “poor baby? Poor mom.” Immediately after this the phone was demanding to be answered so I stepped back from the register and answered it. I could see the older woman who was expecting me to blindly agree with her get all puffy and begin stuttering, “well yes… poor mom too… but…uh…the baby…*mumbles*…” and off to the bathroom she went realizing I had moved on to focus on the phone call.

I was amazed by all of the ignorance exuding off this woman. Did she even have children? Grandchildren? Was she aware that babies simply cry as a form of communicating? How could she possibly think that just because this baby was crying, it wanted to go home? Was this mom and are all moms supposed to lock themselves up in a tower after giving birth, never to step outside into the free world until the possibility of crying was at zero percent? Does this lady expect that anytime a mom is out in public with her child and that child gets fussy, she should stop whatever task is at hand and rush home to console her fussy baby in secrecy? It’s this kind of thinking that has modern day moms developing anxieties and depression. As if being responsible for another life isn’t already enough of an emotional roller-coaster, let’s top it off with the contradicting opinions of the public.

Admittedly, it was difficult for me not to dwell on the situation that occurred. I tend to be an over-analyzer so naturally I’ve replayed it over and over in my head and have realized what it really was about it that upset me so much. This woman had struck a nerve and the most frustrating part was that she probably didn’t even have a clue. Hopefully my choice to contest her opinion, at the very least, encouraged her to consider what had taken place and how inconsiderate she appeared. There may have been a better way for me to make my point to her, and it’s possible she walked away from the encounter, never to think about it again, but I feel like I made a step towards not only defending the mom who was being considerate to everyone in the restaurant but also towards pointing out the older woman’s unfair judgement.

My intention is not to bash an old lady or put her down. But too often people carelessly throw around their opinions as gospel and don’t pay attention to the effects their opinions have on others. Personally, I think it’s important to take a stand for those that are being unfairly judge and shamed. The important thing though is to take a stand without being the same as the ones imposing the judgement and opinions. There are classy ways to make a point without causing confrontation. Sometimes just being a friendly face to someone already dealing with a stressful situation is all that is needed.

Being a mom in this day and age can already be so cumbersome thanks to all  the do this, don’t do that criticisms of onlookers and their unwanted opinions. Thinking you must lock yourself away after having a kid could be detrimental to your health which can adversely affect your baby. By the same token, if you feel most confident and content staying in with your baby, then do that. The truth is, what works for one mom and her family is going to be completely different for what works for another mom and her family. We must all do what feels best as parents, we have instincts for a reason! This is the 21st century and women are not and should not be expected to run home just because their child is fussy. Yes, our children become the focus of our lives once we have them but that doesn’t mean we must become hermits out of fear of being shamed for having a crying baby where someone might actually see them.

Here Comes the Newbie Blogger

I’ve thought about starting a blog for years.

It has always seemed like a daunting task just to figure out how to set one up and get things going. And then the threat of writer’s block. What if I can’t get the whirling ideas in my head to get in line long enough for me to express them through writing It’s amazing how many ideas and thoughts I have throughout the day that I feel would make great topics and yet, when I humor the possibility of actually writing them, POOF, my mind becomes a vacant tomb.

My husband, Tom, has really been encouraging me over the last year to do this. He thinks I’m a good writer. I do like to write but compared to what is already floating around the interwebs these days, it’s hard to say if I compare without having actually done it and gotten some feedback.

So here we go, I am finally doing this.

I imagine my style of blogging will come along once I have actually started the thing. There’s a book titled “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson where he references a lot of famous success quotes and one of them is “do the thing and you shall have the power”. “Power” in this case being the internal willpower to turn something I enjoy into something that can provide for my family.   

Well here I am, doing the thing, trusting that the power will come…

I am currently 40 weeks pregnant and it is so exciting for my husband and me, but especially him since this is his first. My oldest is almost 10 and I had him when I was in high school. I was a single mom for a long time, on and off dating a guy after splitting up with my sons dad. When all of that finally ended, I met Tom. We’ve been together for 4 years and married for 2. He has been an incredible role model for my son and a great husband through all the ups and downs and is still ready for the ones that have yet to come.

I think it’s safe to say that most people who take on a new endeavor do so for a reason. For me, being 9 months pregnant with my 2nd child is probably my biggest reason. It has inspired, motivated, and scared me into taking our future and our lives in general more seriously. The only way we are going to have the kind of life we want for ourselves is to start doing stuff that moves us in the right direction. Now I have no way of knowing if blogging will be that avenue but it has been nagging at me for years so I might as well give it a shot. 

I’m looking forward to joining the blogging world. I feel like I have some valuable experiences that I can share with other moms, especially young mothers who have been or are currently in similar situations. I’m only 26 but my life has been a crash course of experiences and rapid maturation. I would love to help people, even if it is just by writing out my experiences, at the very least, to comfort someone who feels alone in life. I discovered over the last couple of years that there are very few situations that someone else has not already endured so as alone as we may feel at times, chances are, we are not alone in that situation. Lucky for us we have the internet now, where we can share experiences and learn from each other.

I am excited about this new endeavor and the possibilities that may come along with it. Now that I have gotten through an introduction I feel this vacant tomb of thoughts beginning to fill up. It’s kind of hard to bring this post to a close just as the floodgates of thought have been opened but if I don’t stop now it could easily become a book! I look forward to bringing to fruition the many whirling topics my mind is cooking up 🙂

Stay tuned and thanks in advance to any followers!!