Posts tagged birth

John’s six-month checkup!

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Well, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Ours was wonderful. I totally gorged myself and I’m not ashamed. It was delicious! And I’m sad it’s over. Nathan had a blast playing with his sweet cousins, who are three and two-and-a-half. Nathan played so hard that he was covered in sweat by the time it was over. We’re looking forward to getting together on Christmas!

In other news, John had his 6 month checkup today. He’s perfect! He’s in the 85th percentile for height and the 40th percentile for weight, and his doctor said he’s gonna be tall and thin. I’m not surprised- Paul is 6’5 or so, and I’m 5’8, which is tall for a girl. John has a big ole head, so that means he’s getting all the nutrients he needs. I absolutely LOVE our pediatrician. I talked to him today because even though we’re very pro-vaccination, there’s still a small part of me that worries. I know that the one “study” that linked autism to vaccines has been debunked and proven fraudulent, but there is a small but very vocal group of people out there who are VERY anti-vaccination. When I voiced my concerns to the pediatrician, he brought up some very good points.

First, the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine, which is what the anti-vax community claims causes autism, has not changed since they started administering the vaccine in the 1960’s. (Back then, they were separate vaccines- they were combined in 1971 I believe.) It’s had the same ingredients all these years. People would form lines that wrapped around the block to get the vaccines. In the 1970’s, people started having less children compared to the baby boomers, so the vaccine was administered less since there were less people to give it to. Fast forward to today, and the vaccine is administered even less than it was in the ’70’s due to smaller family sizes. Yet the incidence of autism keeps rising. Maybe it’s better screening. Regardless, the rates are climbing at an alarming rate.

Second, some people also claim Thermasol (I think that’s how it’s spelled), the mercury-based perservative found in some vaccines, can cause autism. However, Thermasol in vaccines for children has been phased out over the last decade. And yet the autism rates continue to climb. Some vaccines for adults still contain it, but not the ones for kids. Additionally, you’re exposed to more mercury taking a new car for a test drive than in what a vaccine contains.

Third, and this knowledge has been around for a while now, scientists have discovered that there is a gene that causes autism- so autism is passed down from the parent(s). However, there appears to be an “on” switch. They’re still not sure what causes the switch to flip from “off” to “on.” There is speculation that the mom catching a virus during pregnancy could cause the switch to flip, or a virus that the child catches. There is also speculation of a link between Pitocin, Epidurals, and also immediate cord clamping following birth. I briefly touched upon these concerns in a previous blog post I had written.

It seems that people are more willing to listen to celebreties than scientists, mostly because scientists are probably considered boring while celebreties are “fun” to watch and listen to. So when a celebrety starts opining about how vaccines are dangerous, people are quick to jump on the bandwagon. Of course, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would disagree with me. And that’s ok. It all boils down to it being YOUR decision as a parent. You have to make the best decision you can for your children with the information you have. Personally, even if vaccines were to cause autism, I would much rather have an autistic child than one who died from a preventable disease.

The biggest problem the anti-vax community presents is losing what’s called “herd safety.” See, vaccines aren’t 100% effective. For example, even though Nathan has all his vaccinations, if he comes into contact with a kid who hasn’t been vaccinated against something and comes down with it, there’s still a small chance Nathan could catch it. So when the vast majority of the “herd” is vaccinated, it provides a safety net. We’re losing that safety net, and the most vulnerable are infants, who haven’t been fully vaccinated yet, and those with immune system deficiencies. Just look at the Whooping Cough epidemics we’ve been seeing around the United States. When babies come down with Whooping Cough, it can be deadly. As a side note, immunity to Whooping Cough diminishes over time, so adults, it’s VERY important for you to get a booster shot so you don’t inadvertantly infect a baby! ESPECIALLY if you are around any infants!

I feel like I can say all this because Nathan has autism. The preschool he attends did an evaluation on him and found that he is very high-functioning. Some people would say he has mild autism, but I don’t think that’s the politically correct way to put it. Either way, it is what it is. Don’t feel sorry for him, though. His having autism doesn’t change a thing. He is still my sweet and incredibly smart boy with a steel-trap memory. All this finding does is provide an opportunity for him to get Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Inclusion Therapy (which helps him with his social skills) through the school system. I know he’s going to be just fine and once he masters these skills their teaching him in school, he’s really going to soar.

I strongly suspect Nathan’s birth experience played a contributing factor to him developing autism. His birth was incredibly medicalized and fraught with interventions. They snuck Pitocin in my IV after I told them no, and that caused him to go into fetal distress (because he wasn’t getting enough oxygen from the abnormal strength of the contractions- and remember what I said in my blog post linked above about not getting enough oxygen to the brain?) Even though I declined an Epidural, they had me strapped to that stupid continuous fetal monitoring machine, blood pressure machine, and IV line like I was some sort of sick person instead of a healthy woman with a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, so I could not move around the room during labor.  Because of that, I couldn’t manage the pain, so I ended up caving and getting the Epidural. With John, I had NO interventions at the Birth Center and was able to move around and then labor in the birthing tub. It made a huge difference in managing my pain. And with Nathan, they clamped and cut the cord immediately. All that iron-rich, oxygenated blood in the placenta never made it to his brain because of that. Like I said, I’m no medical professional, but I feel strongly that the labor and delivery system set the stage for Nathan’s development. It’s been 4.5 years since Nathan’s birth, and I’m still pissed about what they did to us. That’s why with John, I went to a birthing center with midwives. Totally different experience and much better for me and my sweet baby.

Anyway, it was a good talk with the pediatrician. Baby John is growing so fast. I can’t believe he’s six months old already! Time really is going by so fast. I remember with Nathan, time seemed to go by so slow. But with this one, I wish I had a pause button. Maybe it’s because I’m so busy having a two children to care for instead of one. I wish I had a pause button so I could live in the moment a little longer. I am really going to miss these days when my boys are grown. It goes by in the blink of an eye!

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He’s here!

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He’s finally here!! Things are a whirlwind right now, so I will write more about his amazing birth when things calm down. Baby John was born over the weekend at 8lbs 4.5 oz and 22 inches long; a bundle of pure amazing awesomeness! His birth was perfect and incredible! I can’t wait to write about it. In the meantime, here’s some pictures to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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Welcome to the world, John!

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Wearing his big brother's coming home outfit

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Enjoying some outside time

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*This* is why I have a hard time trusting hospitals…

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“Yes, we do make bets on when your doula will leave, your birth plan will go out the window, and you’ll beg for an Epidural. And we go ahead and set up the OR. Happy Nurses Week!”

So one of my Facebook friends is a labor and delivery nurse, and she posted this on Facebook as a meme. I’m not friends with her per se… it’s one of those things where we’re friends on Facebook because we went to church together 15 or so years ago.

I take great umbridge with what she posted. I think it’s highly disrespectful and demeaning to make a game out of a laboring woman’s discouragement. You know *why* laboring women in hospitals will sometimes throw their birth-plans out the window and beg for epidurals? One of the biggest reasons is because we are forced into a “standard of care” rather than evidence-based care.

Many times, we go into a hospital and are immediately turned into sheep. We have to dress in hospital gowns and are subjected to “routine” interventions that studies are showing as questionable medical procedures. We are hooked up to I.V.’s and continuous fetal monitoring, and have our labors either induced or augmented with Pitocin, which means that we have to labor in bed. Sometimes that’s even the hospital’s standard of care anyway; the laboring woman must stay in bed. When we aren’t “allowed” to move about freely, we can’t accommodate the pain. It hurts WAY worse to labor laying down in bed. Not only that, but when you aren’t allowed to move around during labor (think sitting on birth balls, swaying, walking, and just moving around), the baby has a harder time moving down into the birth canal. *Gravity* is a laboring mother’s best friend. Also, movement during labor helps baby get into an optimal position for birth. For example, if the baby is sunny-side up, then movement will help him shift to face down.  I came across a very interesting Consumer Reports article saying EXACTLY what I’ve been saying for years about how some of these interventions are completely unnecessary and only increase, rather than prevent, our risk of things going wrong.

Also, birthing on one’s back is the worst possible position ever. Not only are you pushing against gravity rather than with it, but your tailbone has a harder time moving out of the way to accommodate baby, making the birth canal 20% smaller, and leading to the widely-embraced misconception that the baby won’t fit, labor has stalled, or mom’s body is unable to give birth. Granted, sometimes these things really DO happen, but women aren’t given a chance to birth in different positions or move around to give themselves & their babies a chance.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and I don’t want it to sound like I am painting everyone with the same brush. However, I truly believe that for the vast majority of us, our bodies won’t make babies we can’t deliver ourselves. Once our labors and deliveries are turned into a medical event and become medically managed, we are saying our bodies are incapable of handling birth without medical aid. This introduces doubt and fear, and it disempowers us. When we introduce drugs such as Pitocin (which is man-made Oxytocin used to induce or augment labor, mentioned above) into our system, we don’t get the endorphins Nature gives us through the Oxytocin our own bodies make while in labor, and neither does the baby, which can have a serious impact. And even more disturbing is the term “Pit to distress” that I’ve come across lately. When you think about it, such high levels of Pitocin causing such strong contractions can’t be safe. When contractions are unnaturally strong, the baby can’t get enough oxygen. What happens when our brains are denied sufficient amounts of oxygen? Parts of our brain can die. This is just me talking, but think about all the neurological problems that occur with oxygen deprivation to the brain. In fact, Autism is a neurological disorder, so how do we know drugs such as Pitocin, especially when it’s “cranked up,” doesn’t play a part in the staggering rise of Autism that we’re seeing? Likewise with immediate umbilical cord clamping. The baby’s blood is in the placenta, and when the cord is clamped and cut immediatey after birth, how do we know that denying the baby the iron-rich, oxygen-rich placental blood doesn’t contribute to lack of oxygen to the brain?

This is why I feel it’s so important to do birth the way God and nature intended. By changing what nature intended, we really don’t know what we’re messing with and what the long-term consequences are. And yes, sometimes these medical interventions are necessary and life-saving, and we are fortunate to have them when we need them. But using them when it’s not an emercency is just a risk I can’t take.

So yeah, I find the quote I started this post with incredibly offensive, disrespectful, and arrogant. And blithely saying they have the OR prepped for the inevitable c-section is just awful. America has an astounding c-section rate of one out of every three women. That’s about 33% of babies being born surgically. While many are medically necessary and save lives, most others are not. There is nothing “wrong” with c-sections or women who choose to have them, but it’s a major abdominal surgery and comes with serious risks. And each c-section a mother has increases her risk of serious and life-threatening complications. VBAC’s (vaginal birth after Cesarean  also come with their own risks, but seems to be less risky overall with way more benefits than repeat c-sections.

But anyway, I said all that because it really bothers me that my Facebook friend posted something like that. That is *exactly* why I’m going with a birthing center this time around, as long as everything goes well of course, and seeing a midwife. Thankfully, there are MANY wonderful, supportive nurses out there who advocate for their patients, but unfortunately there are those who are like my Facobook friend, and I don’t want to take that risk. It seems like she has little respect for laboring women and spends her energy “making bets” rather than being supportive and encouraging when a laboring woman is feeling discouraged. Me, my baby, and my choices for birth are more likely to be respected at the birthing center I’m going to. Interventions with little to no benefit to me & my baby won’t be forced on me as a routine “standard of care.”

Its really heartbreaking the amount of disrespect that’s rampant towards laboring women in hospitals, mostly by some power-happy OB/GYN’s. It’s almost as if we’ve been turned into cows on an assembly line. Get us in, get us out so that we don’t interfere with the doc’s golf tournament or dinner party. It’s as if once we go onto labor, we lose our autonomy, our right to make informed decisions and informed refusal of certain interventions and procedures based on what we feel is best for us and our babies. Nowhere else in medicine is this evident except in obstetrics. It’s sad.

I hope things are better when my children are having children.

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Where do kids come up with this stuff?

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I like how Nathan thinks the reason my belly button sticks out is because the baby is laughing while in my belly.

Speaking of babies & bellies, Nathan has been asking me if the baby will come out through my mouth or through my belly button. I explained to him that the midwife will help the baby come out, and that seemed to satisfy him… for now. Whew. Not that I mind him knowing the age-appropriate truth, but on the other hand, Nathan has a bad habit of repeating *everything* Paul and I say- even to complete strangers! So for now, I am definitely trying to keep explanations as simple as possible. And also trying not to giggle at how freaking adorable he is!

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