Saturday, December 29, 2012

Old wives' tales

Having gone through 3 pregnancies now, I have had the privilege of hearing lots and lots of pregnancy myths and old wives tales. A lot of them have cracked me up, a few have pissed me off :) I was confronted with a classic one today, one of the most pervasive, so I just had to blog about this topic. As I was in line at the grocery store, the checkout girl (who was very sweet) had me stand back so she could see my belly and said very confidently, "Oh, you are totally having a boy!" Imagine her surprise (and my pleasure) at telling her it was actually TWO girls :) She was really nice but genuinely shocked that her prediction was wrong. It was a pleasant exchange and made me smile and remember some of the myths that people take as fact regarding pregnancy.

1. You can tell the gender by how the mom is carrying
-as we have seen, this is obviously not true. Many people think if you are carrying "high" it is a girl, "low" and it is a boy. The fact is that a woman's body and uterus shape play the major role in how she is carrying.

2. If you have morning sickness it is a girl.
-nope, sorry. Each pregnancy is different. Some women get sick, some don't. I have never had morning sickness (sorry, don't hate me!) so that one for sure is not the case :)

3. Cocoa butter prevents stretch marks or makes them go away.
-sorry ladies, no scientific basis. You will either get them or not. But it sure does feel good to have someone else rub it on your belly!

4. You can't color your hair while pregnant.
-as a stylist I say "Hush your mouth!!!" I always tell people to follow their care provider's advice, but today most of them say their is no reason to worry. Hair color doesn't get into your blood stream.

5. No sex while pregnant
-now that is just plain silly.

And my very favorite one, from my dear sweet grandmother who gave birth to four girls:

6. You can't lift your arms above your head while pregnant because the cord will wrap around the baby's neck.
-I laughed out loud at this one, and once I did, my grandmother laughed too. She realized how silly it sounded when I asked her how I was supposed to wash my hair for 9 months :)

So what were your favorite myths you heard while preggers???

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mental preparedness

Snuggling with my man last night, I was musing about how on Christmas day, I will be 32 weeks into this pregnancy. Time flies! Without a doubt, this has been my fastest pregnancy. Russell asked "Are you ready?", meaning ready for labor. And my answer was no, I'm not. I'm not "over being pregnant" and I am also not mentally ready to give birth. Which means it is time to get ready! At this point, my goal is to make it to 37 weeks, since that would be full term for these little ones. The best start I can give them in life, the better. I could easily go that long since things are going so well, but the babies could just as easily decide they are done and ready to come out before then. It is important that I trust the babies, trust my body to know when it is time. There are many people out there who think of labor as something that happens to women instead of something that we actively rejoice and revel in. Each woman's labor is different, but as a doula I strongly desire every woman to feel as though she is an active participant in her own labor. There are many things out of our hands during childbirth, but labor is about walking that fine line between control and surrender. Surrender to the biological, intuitive processes and control over the decisions we make.
So it is time for me to mentally prepare for this birth. What a freaking awesome thing to get to experience the birth of twins!! I am really excited about it, and I'm sure some of you think I'm crazy for it :) How do I mentally prepare? I envision my "perfect" birth, how things would go if I could control the whole scenario. What would make me happiest, what would be best for the babies, what would make the parents happy. I frequently hear people say that all that matters is that mom and babies are safe and healthy, bottom line. And while it is true that is the ultimate goal, that is a given. Who DOESN'T want that to be the end result?? Envisioning how I want this go involves more than that because I truly believe that how a child is brought into this world influences that child and the mother for the rest of their lives. I truly do. I don't say this to say that one way is better than another, that one woman's choice or birth experience is superior to another; the last thing I want to do is judge anyone who has been through any form of childbirth. Those experiences should unite us, not be one more platform by which to judge. We deal with enough mommy guilt as it is. My point is that it is important to know that I am not having something "done" to me, I am in charge of making decisions and joyously
participating in childbirth.
My "perfect" birth would be a calm, spiritual experience. A vaginal birth without medication. A birth in which I feel empowered. I want the babies to be lined up in the proper position, or if they aren't, I want my doctor and midwife to be able to turn them. I want each of the babies' cords kept intact while they rest on my chest. I want the mother there to be a part of it and to cut each of her babies' cords herself. I want my labor and delivery mix playing in the background. I want my amazing husband there as my coach, looking at me with love and awe in his eyes. I want the babies to be big and strong and healthy. I want their mother to be able to nurse them as soon as possible. And I KNOW, I feel it in my soul, that the babies want this too. The parents are totally on board with all of this, and together our families believe that this is what will happen. I'm not delusional, I know that there can be circumstances that prevent this from happening. But in my experience having a clear vision of what you WANT to happen is the best way to make it happen. I have never said I'm going to "try to go natural and vaginal"  but that I will go natural and vaginal.  If for whatever reason that doesn't happen, so be it, I will surrender to whatever the safest way for these babies to be born is. But I am not going into it with trepidation or doubts. I am going into this with pure love, pure faith, pure trust.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cry baby

I am a crier. I cry when I'm sad, I cry when I'm really happy. I am a sappy, sentimental person. I cried at Stella's dance recital, cried when they went to the dentist for the first time, cry in celebration of both children's birthdays every year. I cry when I look at pictures, when I reminisce, when I think of them growing up. I cried when Russell and I got married and again when we renewed our vows. I cry when I'm a jerk to my kids or my husband. I cry when I think of all the sacrifices my mom made for me. Sweet commercial on T.V.? Yep, I'm a sucker for those. My mom used to give me a hard time as a kid because there were two songs that made me cry EVERY time I heard them- and I mean just the first few notes.  (Me and Little Andy by Dolly Parton and Smoky Mountain Rain by Ronnie Milsap, in case you're curious). The thing is, I HATE crying in front of people. Despite my soft gooey inside, it is vitally important to me that I keep my hard candy shell. I prefer to deal with my shit on my own. But I feel things deeply and I always have. Its one of the many reasons I feel super connected to Stella; I sense the same thing in her. If she gets upset, her immediate response is to leave the room and go deal with it on her own. Roy is no less sensitive, he just lets it all out :)
So this time of year will find me carrying tissues around without fail. I LOVE the holiday season! Which means I'll be really happy and sappy, so I'll cry a lot :) Always have, always will. My mom once told me that when you stop believing in Santa, you stop getting presents. That struck a chord as a kid, as you can imagine. But as I've gotten older, the meaning of that statement, while still very significant, has shifted for me. Obviously it is easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the season, but for me the tangible gifts are not the important thing. I have always been blessed with a giving, loving family. Of course I loved the presents as a kid, but I loved the traditions more. Waking up at the crack of dawn (sorry mom), spending the day in my pj's at my grandmother's house, eating oyster stew, listening to Christmas music, putting up the tree; all of it was so full of joy and excitement. For me, the "believing in Santa" is about the magic of childhood, the joy of family, the love of something bigger than unwrapping presents.
Now that I'm a mom and I'm married to a man who gets just as giddy about Christmas as I do (almost), this time of year is even better. It is true that seeing the magic of the season through the eyes of a child is amazingly sweet and exciting. I have plenty of friends who are not Christian, or don't celebrate Christmas and obviously, to each her own. I'm not the person who gets offended by someone saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. I'm also not the type to quote scripture to someone else or proclaim indignantly that "Jesus is the Reason for the Season!" Everyone's beliefs are equally important; this is not the time for judgement.  My wish for everyone this season is that we all take the time to find whatever it is that is magical for us and try and pass that on to someone else. Put the cynicism on the shelf for a little while. Open your hearts, let the tears flow freely, let the love out to those around you.

P.S. Yes mom, I still cry when I hear those songs :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Birth Plan

So it is time for me to write my birth plan. For those of you not familiar with the concept, the idea is that you write out your needs, wishes, desires and preferences for how your birth will go. Granted, no one can predict exactly how labor and delivery will go, but if you have a clear idea in your head of what you want and don't want, what you will and will not accept or settle for, things can go a lot more smoothly. I always have doula clients write one and it helps us have a framework with which to work. It can cover things like music, aromatherapy, laboring positions, religious considerations and interventions.
My last labor and delivery was about as smooth as they go, so I am basing a lot of my plan on that birth. But there are other people I have to think about in this one! The mom and dad add a whole new element to consider. And since they have never experienced a birth, I am absolutely in the role of educator for them. The mom will be in the delivery room with me (dad will be in the waiting room since neither of us are comfortable with him seeing my naked booty laboring all over the room), so she and I have to coordinate our visions. Granted, I am the one in labor, but they are her children, so I want her to be as involved as possible.
One of the big things I've discussed with the parents is delayed cord cutting. There are many benefits to not snipping the cord right away so that the babies can continue to get the nutrient rich blood from the cord in the first few minutes of their life on the outside. So while the idea that each baby will come out and go right to the mom's waiting arms is a great one, the reality is that won't really be possible with  cord still attached. That is a bit of a sensitive issue because mom and I both want babies to go to her ASAP, but we also want them to get those benefits of delayed cord cutting, which puts them on my chest before they go to her.
Also, even though mom will be in the room, my primary support person is my hubby. He is an amazing birth coach and instinctively knows what I need and want in labor. We are truly a team in life, and no where is that more apparent than in labor. He is focused, sweet and nurturing, with complete and total confidence in me and my body and what I can do. It is empowering and humbling at the same time to see how he views me in labor. (Damn I got a good one!!!) So my vision of the mom's role is more on the outside with her support and encouragement.
Lastly, the mom plans on taking hormones so that she can induce lactation. She really wants to nurse the babies and I am so glad she does. I think its amazing. Hopefully that will work out for her (it doesn't always) which means she can start nursing right away. Meanwhile, I will have to deal with a milk supply coming in that won't be used...ah well, that is a topic for another blog post.
My ideal birth will be one that is calm and focused, unmedicated. One that results in a natural, vaginal birth with little or no intervention. I am terrified of a c-section and am thinking positive thoughts that there will be no need for one. As long as one of these girls lines up properly, we will be good to go. (There are ways to help turn the babies if both are in the breech position as we get closer to the due date) To those that are shocked that I want an unmedicated birth with twins, let me remind you: they come out sequentially, not simultaneously :)
In a related issue, I was honored to be a part of a local crew of ladies that host a podcast called The Tribecast, which focuses on all things birth related. They asked me to be interviewed to tell my surrogate story and I jumped at the chance. It was an awesome experience and I am really stoked for the episode to air this week. Talking with other moms about this whole journey really brought my birth plan even more into focus for me. Shameless plug: check our their Facebook page and be ready for the episode to air Monday or Tuesday!

Monday, December 3, 2012


Yesterday was my Blessingway, which I've been looking forward to for a while now. I'm not having a baby shower, since these aren't my babies :)  and I won't need any baby supplies. The Blessingway is a way for me to be surrounded by my good friends and receive their love, support and good wishes and blessings for my labor. As my friend Kelsey put it, labor is about letting go, especially for a surrogate. So my focus for this labor is to be strong physically and mentally.
Yesterday was everything I wanted it to be, minus the presence of a few ladies who were unable to make it. It was a gathering of women I love and respect, all of them wise in their own ways, sharing their hopes and wishes for me for labor. It was a sisterhood (thanks Mahri, for pointing that out). We laughed a lot, cried a little, shared funny birth stories and not-so-funny birth memories too. Each friend brought me a bead (or a few) to make a necklace for me to wear from now through labor. That necklace ties us all together so I can feel their power and presence with me during birth. What a powerful thing! A circle of women coming together for a common purpose is an amazing thing. I felt honored by the words they spoke about me and I'll be carrying those notes from them with me into the delivery room. I'm sure seeing those wishes written out will be motivating, empowering and comforting. And a few of them will make me laugh too, which is ALWAYS welcome in labor :)
I am truly blessed. I am so fortunate to have so many amazing women in my life. I felt their strength become a part of me as I made my necklace and bracelets today. The beads were so unique and diverse that one piece of jewelry couldn't possible suffice. Which is how I feel about my friends too; how incredible diverse they are!! I love them, with all my heart and soul. Thanks ladies, for making me feel loved and supported and so totally part of a sisterhood.