Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Give it back!

About two weeks ago, Ely was sick and wanted ‘num’ (her code name for nursing) every.second.of.the.day. While I was glad to be able to provide nourishment and comfort while she was sick, by the end of it, I was ready for her to get.off.me! I love her dearly, as you know, but I needed space. I went out with friends one night and came back a new woman.

A week later, she had a REALLY bad night. Once I made sure she wasn’t sick or teething, instead of feeling the normal compassion, I was just frustrated and again feeling like I needed SPACE! I thought about it for a day or so and made a big decision… it was time for night weaning.

Ely is 18 ½ months old and we are on night four of night weaning. Some nights are better than others, but she understands when I tell her that “I don’t want to do num right now” and offer her ‘juice’, which is really water. (You’ll keep my secret, right?)

Sometimes she cries and I hold her and reassure her. I tell her that growing up IS very hard, but mommy needs to sleep, too. Sometimes, she rolls over and goes back to sleep.

I’m glad to be doing this at an age when she understands what I’m saying to her. I’m glad that I waited until now because I’m so very confident that she knows I love her beyond words. I’m also glad that I was able to wait until it felt right for me, not because someone else was pushing me to do it. All those things together make me really confident in the decision.

Of course, I’m getting less sleep than when I just nursed her at night and if this continues for much longer, I totally reserve the right to change my mind… That said, let me tell you a funny, if gross, little ditty from night 2.

We were spending some “awake time” together around 3am, much to my dismay. She was reaching her hands out and playing with them. I thought she wanted to hold my hand, as she often does. So, I relished the moment and played with her little fingers…and she SCREAMED!

I’m not talking about a little cry. It was heads and shoulders above her, ‘I’m upset. I want ‘num’’ cry. This was an all out scream. I tucked her under my arm and rocked her. It continued and I was confused... until I felt it…

She had apparently been picking her nose and had a ‘treasure’ on her hand. When I lovingly played with her fingers, I’d unknowingly removed the treasure. The blood curdling screams were all because…she wanted her booger back! She hadn’t been reaching for me. She was playing with it- and I’d stolen it!

Oh, the joys of motherhood!

The happy ending: I did not give it back and she went back to sleep without ‘num’- that time.

Birth plans...

When I first started reading about “birth plans”, I rolled my eyes a little and thought, ‘Ugh! Another indicator of how our society misses the mark.’ I thought these women were a little presumptuous in writing down their 'plan of events’, wanting to control everything.

You see, whether you believe it to be God’s or nature's plan, things go like this: labor starts, cervix dilates, mom pushes, and baby comes out. The rest is just (uncontrollable) details. That’s just the way it’s going to go down.

Unless, it doesn’t… I wrote about Ely's birth here, but didn't really go into the core of the "problem". A couple days after she was born, I sobbed to R, "If my body can't complete the most basic act of motherhood: giving birth, maybe I’m not cut out to be a mom." (This self doubt really hurt, not only because I doubted my ability to care for my sweet baby girl, but because I've always known I wanted children. In fact, that is the only thing that I have ever been SURE I wanted.)

R reassured me that I, and my body, were made for this motherhood thing and filled in with the parenting duties while my hormones settled a little. The feeling subsided slowly. I credit establishing a successful nursing relationship with helping soothe these wounds. You could say nursing, and even “extended” nursing was my own personal “bu-ya! I can TOO do this! My body WAS meant for motherhood”. (I'd guess that has at least a small bit to do with why we're still at it.)

In an effort to understand what had happened and heal, I read about other women who'd had similar experiences. I talked to friends. Overwhelmingly, women with unplanned c-sections were regretful of the way "it had all gone down". The personal acceptance processes ranged from almost immediate to prolonged mourning of their birthing experience.

I think the latter is probably confusing to women who haven’t suffered an unplanned c-section. What does it matter what “door” the baby comes out? Logically, it shouldn’t. Unfortunately, logic has very little to do with the birthing process.

I’d suggest that giving birth is, at its core the most animal thing we do as “civilized” human beings. There are cultural norms surrounding eating and sex, but there are no such rules about growing and birthing a baby. (If you’ve ever seen a video of a natural birth, the “sound track” is quite animal-like. I think we can all agree on that.) Our bodies are pre-programmed to do it and societal norms have very little influence on whether we can complete the task successfully (except for the against-gravity position that most hospitals put you in, which is arguably a “societal norm”).

Did you know that some mammal mothers who do not feel their baby come through her birth canal does not recognize their young? Maybe my feelings of self-doubt after my c-section weren’t illogical. Maybe they were animal. There’s a whole hormonal sequence that I missed. It came later, in the form of oxytocin, but those first few days were pretty painful (emotionally).

And so, I’ve concluded that birth plans ARE an indicator of how our society misses the mark, but not in the way I originally thought. Birth plans are women's desperate attempt to reclaim the birthing process, to ask others to support us in what our bodies know how to do naturally.

Of course, there are times when I thank God obstetricians exist. They are necessary, without a doubt, but living in a country where the Cesarean rate is 40%, I think it's time they back off a little bit and let us and our babies do what our bodies we were meant to. Unless mom or baby are in danger (or simply want to do it another way), I think we, as a society, would benefit from letting things "go down" the way they were meant to.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Magic Water Finding Man

I have a close relationship with my parents. We get along well (unless I'm trying to make my mom clean out an area of the house that she doesn’t want to clean). I talk to them on Skype almost every day. My husband genuinely loves them (and not just in that "they're my in-laws, so I have to” way.). I am an only child. I birthed the only grandchild. Logic would dictate that being so far apart is not the ideal long-term situation for us. Logic would be correct.

In their classic selflessness, they are planning split their retirement time between Chile and an undefined location, at least for the first couple years when mobility is not an issue. Then, who knows what is in the cards, although I'd venture a guess that they'll spend more time here. (If you're confused as to why, refer back to my being an only child and having the only grandbaby- grandbaby being the main attraction, of course!)

While I love my house and it’s fine for extended visits, I think we all agree that a little bit more privacy/different lay out, is vital if we're all going to be together long-term. So, in 2007 we found a piece of property out where my in-laws live (yes, family is THAT important to us that we are going to try to live close together.) And there our little parcel of land sat…

Until my parents' Christmas visit, when my father starting pushing to get the ball rolling on building this place we've talked about building for four years. First order of business- find out where the ground water is. So, we did... but not how you think we did.

It was important to do this step in the summer, when the water levels are at their lowest. So, about a month ago, we called a "brujo" (literally a warlock, but in this case, I like "magic water finding man" better because there’s no witchcraft involved) and he appeared one afternoon with two copper rods and a crystal ball on a pendulum. ... hold on, I'm serious.

I was (understandably?) skeptical. So he let me try out the rods- and they really do work by themselves!!

Once he found the best place to drill the well, he pulled out the crystal ball pendulum. He pointed at the ground and asked “Hay agua aqui?” (Is there water here?); the pendulum began to swing. He counted. Supposedly, the number of swings indicated the number of meters below the surface the water will be found. His pendulum said anywhere between 15 and 35 meters.

Now, I don't want to be a jerk, but that's a pretty big range, especially when you pay for drilling by the meter! Given the range and the fact that he'd told my in-laws they'd find water at 15 meters and didn't find it until 40, I was pretty skeptical (again). So, he let me try again.

I tried once silently and he corrected me: I had to point at the ground and ask the question aloud, otherwise how would the earth know I was talking to it? So, I did and … nothing. He insisted I try again… nothing. I told him not to worry; the earth just didn’t understand my accent. He assured me that it was not my accent; I just didn’t have the “vibras” (vibes) to get an answer. Honestly, I'd rather it be an accent thing than a lack of “vibras”!

Anywho, it was a fun day… I learned a little and laughed a lot. Only the drilling of the well will tell whether he is right or not. Keep your fingers crossed that we find water at 15 meters!!!

So, we “found” water… Steps 2 and 3 to be done simultaneously:

(2) Drill well

(3) Find an architect- more on the architect search to come…

PS. I realize Ely hasn’t appeared in “recent posts”- not that there have been many. She is still alive and well and perfect (well, to her mommy and daddy anyway).