Wednesday, August 22, 2012

preparing for a journey inward

i always have women asking me what my birth experience was like with elodie. it's a funny thing about labor. you never know what you might get and i believe it's not entirely up to us how our baby will come into this world. after all, it is not only our journey, but that of our little one as well. the first steps they will take on their own personal life path. one of the biggest helps to me was knowing that every single moment of my labor was bringing elodie closer to me. closer to us meeting and starting our life together as a family of three. labor is work. concentration. focus. surrender. lessons for my future as a parent. learning to surrender is one of the hardest things for me personally. really understanding how the way i might want things to be versus how they really are will not always align. i am grateful for how elodie came into this world, one day soon i might share, for now, here is a list of things that really helped me prepare for my labor.

my husband. he fastidiously stood besides me as i explored every possible way of giving birth. he read the chapters that i highlighted. he massaged my back. brought me ice chips. took me on a long walk to watch the sunrise as labor progressed. i could not have made it through without his love and support. my doula was also of tremendous support to the both of us. having an extra birth advocate who also suggested new positions and sat by me through my entire labor was a beautiful example of how women can be of service to one another.

dr. gowri motha's gentle birth method - this book has some amazing birth scripts at the end that my husband recorded and personalized for me a few months before my birth. i really believe having an inward place to go to during the intense contractions was a lifesaver for me. i also followed her regimen of ayurvedic vitamins and salts during my pregnancy.

creating your birth plan by marsden wagner - i was told by a few of my girlfriends that i was nuts for attempting an unmedicated birth in a hospital. i saw the business of being born of course and believed them. having a strong line of communication with my doctor, husband, and doula about my birth wishes in the form of my birth plan made all the difference in the world.

anything and everything by ina may gaskin. love her. her books gave me much needed confidence, especially this one and this one.

natural childbirth the bradley way - i didn't like the bradley method (too much lying around) but something in the way they visually showed labor in this book really helped me wrap my head around what contractions are. i'm a visual person and being able to understand what the sensations were helped tremendously.

my yoga practice. my sister reassured me that my strong yoga and meditation practice would serve me well during labor. staying present, not getting caught up in an inner dialogue of "i can't do this" or "this hurts too much" helped to keep my doubts at bay. 

lavender oil. my doula told me i went through an entire bottle. all i can remember is smelling my wrist and asking for more.

being in water and this body scrub. i was in the shower and tub almost the entire time i was in the hospital. this kept the nausea at bay. when it came time for transition, oddly enough, i wanted to be no where near water but water was a huge relief leading up to that point.

music. when "happier than the morning sun" by stevie wonder came on i sang it and wept during my contractions. i knew every contraction brought my dear daughter closer to me and that helped immensely.

my heart swells and i feel a physical change come over me when i think back to the first few minutes, hours, days together after elodie's birth. how blissed out i was. how new the world was. i am excited to take these feelings like an elixir into my next labor. a new tool to help me prepare for this next journey.

Monday, August 20, 2012

1,001 ways to birth

now that we are getting settled into our new home, i finally feel like i can turn my energy towards preparing for our new baby's arrival.

i always assumed that i would have a home birth. my sister had three of her children at home and, through her, i was tapped in at a very young age to a wonderful network of midwives who specialized in home births in seattle. we visited seattle when i was 27 weeks pregnant and i introduced my husband to a midwife i deeply admire. by the end of our time with her he was a believer. we were definitely having the baby at home.

but the thing was...the place we were living didn't really feel like home. we had moved to los angeles a year before and i was working a stifling job that hadn't allowed me to really settle in to the area, let alone, create a sense of home. i barely knew anyone and found my doctor recommendation through a co-worker.  i was seeing a doctor at cedars-sinai up until 26 weeks at which point i asked about birthing tubs. he looked at me with a blank stare and said that we would discuss my birth plan at 35 weeks. that was the last conversation we had.

if we weren't going to do it at home, we knew we had to prepare ourselves for the next best thing. like many first time mamas, i read every book, toured birthing centers, interviewed midwives and doulas, and took multiple birthing classes in preparation of my first little one's arrival. i turned all my intentions on having a beautiful birthing experience in the most unlikely of places. a hospital.

i started touring hospitals and came across an amazing one in downtown los angeles. tiny really. but tiny doesn't have the bureaucracy of a big hospital and that's what i was looking for. my goal was to have an unmedicated birth with little to no intervention, but most of all, be in arm's reach of a NICU in the event there were any complications. i ended up with a doctor (instead of a mid-wife) who is well-loved and known for his openness to women birthing the way they envision. for me that meant walking about, eating ice-chips or whatever i fancied, with a doula, little fetal monitoring, no mention of pain medication, no episiotomy, at my own pace.

elodie finally came to us after twelve hours of labor (eight of which i was at home) with no epidural, no pitocin, and little intervention. i can count the number of times i had to lie down to be monitored. it was intense, it was primal, and i have never felt so alive. i learned so much about surrender - a lesson that i have carried forth in my daily parenting of elodie. in the end, her cord was wound tightly around her neck which could have potentially been troublesome had i decided to have a home birth and i'm glad that i wasn't faced with that what if.

so now that we have finally moved and have a loving, supportive community here will i have this one at home? to be quite honest, i don't really have a burning desire to switch gears. more and more i feel like where and how we birth is just another way to divide mothers against mothers. i have many friends who have had c-sections and feel guilty that they never labored, many friends who had their babies in in their living rooms. is one superior to the other? not a chance. both stay up nights on end comforting a sick child, wipe away tears, give every bit of their resources and energy to make their little ones feel like the most important thing in the world. 

the point where i get heated is when a woman is bullied into doing something out of fear for her baby's safety (which is honestly most likely to happen in a hospital setting) but i've also personally met a woman whose baby died because the midwife (here in los angeles, a year ago) was too cavalier to admit it was time to get to the hospital. all these stories exist, side by side.

i'm not trying to be controversial by writing this. i only know my own experience which was a truly beautiful one. the end goal is to have a healthy baby and a birthing experience that honors the journey of bringing a new life into this world. there are many, many ways to come by that and the only right choice is the one that feels most authentic to you. it's easy to spiral out of control and make choices based on what so and so is doing. that's the last thing you want to be doing when you are about to go through one of the most intensely personal experiences of your life. 

i will be sharing a list of resources later this week that made all the difference in the world during elodie's birth. stay tuned!

Monday, August 13, 2012

28 weeks at the beach + ergobaby winner!

i'm going to start out by saying thank you to everyone who participated in the ergobaby giveaway! the winner is titia + ed (because i really, really don't like the idea of someone having to use a bjorn!) you can still get 10% off the bundle of joy through august 15th by using discount code THELITTLEST10.

now on to what a difference a week makes! every moving experience has their awful variables. nothing new. a couple of my variables from the past week: 6+months pregnant, 100+ degree heat wave, disoriented toddler, trails of ants, no internet (thanks at&t), 15 hour power outage. so ridiculous that all i can do is laugh.

on the bright side, in one week we have made so much progress and we love our new home!

despite the heat, we had a great weekend. michael and i went to see jack white on friday and to an amazing dinner party on saturday night. sunday, we figured out relatively early on sunday that the heat wave had no end in sight so headed out for a family day in venice and santa monica.

highlights included a decadent lunch at blue plate oysterette, a ride on the ferris wheel (hands down the coolest place on the coast), and a little window shopping on abbot kinney. so happy that we live close to the ocean and such colorful beach communities.

and by the way, i'm officially 28 weeks and in my third trimester. so pregnant!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

a life well edited

tomorrow we move into our new house. these past few weeks have left me heady with possibilities of how to decorate, what to redo once we move in, and what to leave behind. but it wasn't until i was faced with actually going through all my material possessions that things began to simplify.

i'm at a point in my life where i am ready to say goodbye to a lot of things. when we moved from new york we had movers just pack everything in boxes for us and left for europe the next day. when we moved to where we are now, elodie was fifteen months old and sorting was the last thing on my mind. somehow, knowing that this place is really ours makes me aware that i want only the most important, defining moments of my life to come with us. everything else needs to fall by the wayside.

joslyn recently linked to a TED talk by graham hill, founder of funnily enough, i know graham. my husband and i used to stay at his teeny soho apartment whenever we visited new york (and lived in his house in seattle.) he is such an awake person. i love seeing him on the forefront of these social issues, it just feels so authentic to who i know he is as a person. he also has more money than he knows what to do with and this is what he spends his time on. i deeply admire him.

i thankfully listened to this talk when we were still looking for a house. it helped validate our decision to buy a modest first home, one that would allow us to live within our means (i.e, not in an amazing school district or with a stellar view) that felt comfortable and happy. a house we can craft into a home, full of love, creativity, and fun.

during this move, i've tried to incorporate some of his ideas in order to save money, declutter my life, and to reduce our carbon footprint where possible. the most important concept? edit ruthlessly. it feels so good.

i've also had time to think about what i really enjoy about where we currently live. the pomegranate and hibiscus tree, the lush backyard, the way we live half of our time with the doors open and the fresh air coming in. i'm so excited to plant a garden, a tree, and sit in the grass and watch my children play.

Friday, August 3, 2012

on ice

i've been really keeping an eye on my caffeine intake with baby. here are three icy drinks i've had in rotation all month. 

my favorite cafe on the east side of los angeles got me hooked on art of tea's white creme coconut tea. i love it hot in a tea latté during the winter and have been making big carafes of it iced all summer. 

i can't get enough of grapefruit and mint. this was the same with my first pregnancy. i've been pulling out the blender, adding 8 oz of pink grapefruit juice, a few sprigs of mint, and a handful of ice. blend. done. so good!! 

and finally, i'm a huge fan of aperitivos. the art of gathering with friends early to have some snacks, drink, and a conversation on a summer afternoon? so civilized. my version is a small bowl of really crispy potato chips, some green olives, and a chinotto or san bitter in a tumbler with an orange twist. pellegrino sells them in the cutest bottles that you can keep to display shells or pretty flowers after. you can usually find six packs in specialty liquor stores.

what are your favorites? i'd love to add more to my repertoire!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

an Ergobaby giveaway

hi everybody! i'm starting off august with a fun giveaway. it's from Ergobaby and they have been so generous to offer a bundle of joy to one lucky reader of the littlest! the bundle of joy is extra fantastic since it's an ergo carrier plus the infant insert (this will take your little one from birth up to 45 lbs!) i am a huge fan of babywearing and loved carrying elodie in our ergo.

it's accompanied me on many of our travels, survived hikes, and let me stay up for late night dinners with friends (while baby slept soundly on me.) it is probably one of the most important tools to have in a new mother's arsenal.

for a chance to win, please leave a comment below. a winner will be chosen at random on sunday august 12th and announced here on monday august 13th.

if you simply must have one now, get a 10% discount off all bundle of joy carriers with the code THELITTLEST10 through august 15th. good luck!