"Surprise, Surprise! Uh, uh, uh, Happy Birthday!" Thoughts on accepting gifts and help from friends.
Eliza, my youngest, has been super into Cinderella. Again. And still. (We were on a Sleeping Beauty kick for several months, along with Frozen for a while.) I've been reading at least two versions of the story a day (How, and why, exactly, do we have 5 slightly different versions of the story in book form??) She watches her favorite parts on the kindle when I take her with me to the work out room at the clubhouse.
One of her favorite scenes is where the mice are lamenting about how much cinderella has to do, and she won't be able to go to the ball. Then, they come up with the idea to finish the dress themselves. They come together, work hard, and make this beautiful, amazing dress to gift Cinderella.
Cinderella is worn down, beaten, downhearted, she comes into her room to find this amazing gift. What does she do? She thanks them.
Imagine if instead of Cinderella accepting a dress, it was a new mother and her friends all came together and offered to help her with meals, or even watching an older sibling. What would her response be? Would she even accept it? Would she pretend to have her act together and assume she needs to be self-sufficient?
I was a new mother once. (albeit, a while ago, it seems now) I remember the ridiculous amount of guilt I had in accepting meals from our Sunday School group. Feeling inadequate as a mother because I was too sore and tired from recovering from a cesarean birth and breastfeeding difficulties to cook meals for my husband. I felt overwhelmed with motherhood in general, and the inadequacies of not being able to have a vaginal birth or having breastfeeding come naturally just pushed me over the edge. It didn't take much for the insecurities to take root and for me to refuse offers of help much past two weeks postpartum.
Here's the thing though, (or one of the things) I really needed help past those first two weeks. I was just too proud, too insecure, too polite, and too immature to accept the gifts of help graciously. I secretly felt that the people who were bringing me meals were doing it out of a sense of obligation, and I was supposed to "politely" put up a fuss about their offers to help. I was "supposed" to be able to do it on my own.
On the other side of my journey to motherhood, I now realize what those people were really offering. It wasn't to make me feel more inadequate. It wasn't to "judge" me or my inability to feed anyone. It was to help lighten the load. Most of those women had given birth before, many of them were multiple time moms. They knew because they had been there.
So my advice from my experience is to suck up your pride and accept help. Welcome the people who are trying to lighten the load. Don't wave them away, say "we've got this" even if you do. Just take a cue from Cinderella. Twirl around with that dress and say "oh, thank you so much."
It wasn't multiple child syndrome (the syndrome one has when they have multiple children. Other symptoms might include not having a baby book, or not compulsive writings of "firsts".) I didn't cry because I wasn't sad. I was happy.
I won't get into it all, but I will tell you that it sucked. (If you want to read more about it, I blogged about it here.) Yes, God used those losses in a way that I never imagined. But, it still sucked in the middle, deep pit of it all (even though God met us there.)
One of those pregnancies, we found out we were pregnant around the same time as a friend. A friend I saw often. We, obviously, lost the baby. My friend did not. It was not her fault in any way, shape, or form, but it hurt for a long time to watch her son grow up. (Not in an angry at her way, or angry at him way. In a, miss-my-baby way. Just want to be clear on that.) It hurt because I was watching him do all of the things that our baby would never do.
That same due-date baby's major milestones were always an emotional blow. Those blows lessened after having Isaac and Eliza. But, the day he started kindergarten was especially hard on me. It was a big milestone. One I wasn't prepared to hurt so much, because, y'all, I had TWO MORE CHILDREN by then. (Grief is fun like that.) But, the baby that we lost, he/she was still our baby, too. And, gosh, I missed him/her. Hard.
So, yesterday, as Isaac walked into the gym at his school, and as he sat down in line and as I walked him to his class, I was so proud of him. Beyond that, all I could think was a small pray of thanksgiving "Thank you for letting us/him have this experience."
So, no, I didn't cry for Isaac. Because, he's here, and growing up well. But, when I got home, I again cried for the babies we never met outside my womb.
I've heard that it is good to eat dates during late pregnancy. Is this true?
Yes! There was a study conducted by The Jordan University of Science and Technology on late pregnancy consumption of dates. They found some interesting/positive results in the group of women who consumed dates compared to those who did not:
The study says the women ate approximately 3-7 dates in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy. Go buy that bulk sized container of dates at Costco, whip up something yummy to eat with your date or alone, and enjoy!
Tracy Abney, Birth Doula
*some of my favorite date recipes:
paleo energy balls
chocolate coconut date balls
banana date smoothie
bacon wrapped dates
moroccan stuffed dates
or just eat them plain!
What are your suggestions for the best way to labor at home before going to the hospital? Positions, activities, etc.
You know the old burger king saying "have it your way?" That's kind of how you should labor at home. The best way is your way. Various positions, while helpful to know, usually fall by the way side as you find your own groove. Find a position that works, and let your body do what your body needs to do.
But, that's putting the cart in front of the horse. I have heard it said, and I say it to my clients, when you first think you're in labor: deny, distract, rest. (I like to change it to "dream" for the "3d" approach, myself. )
Deny: I've heard a lot of birth stories of women who show up to the hospital well into labor and they tell the nurse "I didn't think it was labor at first, so I just kept working" (or doing whatever it was that they were doing before they noticed contractions.
Distract: Have you heard the suggestions to bake cookies for the nurses (or doula. ahem.) while in early labor? That works great, too. Keeping your mind off the contractions actually helps you relax, instead of focusing on them- semi-wishing for them to get stronger/longer/closer together.
Dreaming: If those contractions start at night, go back to bed if you can! I know this one is hard, ladies. You're pumped, excited, anxious to meet that sweet babe. But, I promise your future active laboring self will thank you if you try to rest. It doesn't have to be actual sleep, though that would be fantastic if you could. But, being still, closing your eyes, listening to soft music, praying, etc. will help keep your energy up later.
There will be a time when you can no longer deny, distract, or dream as early labor approaches active labor. Depending on when you have decided to go to the hospital, you may or may not still be at home. Some suggestions for positions or activities include:
(this is obviously NOT a full list. I just wanted to share a few ideas.)
9 years ago, I was 38 weeks pregnant with a baby boy. I was hoping/praying desperately that I would be able to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).
Even though he was my second child, I wasn't all together 100% sure that I would know when it was "time". I had preterm labor with my first, followed by weeks and weeks of contractions with an irritable uterus, dilated to 5cm for WEEKS, and eventually had an induction. With this baby, though, lots of Braxton hicks, but I just wasn't "sure" that I would "know" it was time.
When labor first started, I thought I had made a poor choice in our dinner location. I hadn't eaten a lot of greasy food toward the end of my pregnancy, and we went to Arby's because of a sudden, but very intense, craving for curly fries. My stomach heaved and rolled, and I squirmed and wished I hadn't eaten what I had. I took a bath, and tried to go to sleep. I had no idea it was labor.
Until, well, until it was REALLY, REALLY labor.
By the time I realized it wasn't Arby's, but my body getting ready the have the baby, it was midnight, on Saturday morning. I can't even begin to tell you the feelings of relief and excitement that my body had actually gone into REAL labor, at the RIGHT TIME, ON IT'S OWN!
The feelings were so strong, that I can remember them clearly, sitting here 9 years later. 9 years, and it still makes me cry to remember the relief.
I'm not going to share my entire birth story right now, but I did go on to VBAC. We had an amazing, blonde haired, blue eyed, baby boy on a scorching hot Saturday afternoon in July. That kid changed me, (as did all of my children) and through his birth, God healed so many things in me that were left torn open after my cesarean.
There's no great question to answer in today's post. No important birth topic to cover. Just warm, deep, happy feelings that still touch my soul that all came from this kid, his birth, and our maker.
Based on my own experience, the best thing my husband and I did in preparation for the actual event of childbirth was connecting with a doula (YOU in particular!). When we found out we were pregnant, we bought a million books, enrolled in all kinds of classes (hospital and alternative--Bradley), and started collecting advice from friends and family, and from the internet, of course. Other than hiring a doula, what would you say is the best way for a couple (the mom to be, in particular) to prepare for the actual event of childbirth?
What is the best way for a mom to be to prepare for childbirth? Run a marathon.
I'm kidding, of course. Mostly. (Though, I often compare endurance sports to labor since they both require preparation, stamina, food and water intake, and mental and physical perseverance.)
I tell my clients to take a childbirth class if they can. Specifically, a childbirth class that seems to cater to the type of birthing parent you hope to be. Classes like Christian Childbirth, Bradley, or hospital classes, can and do go into much great depth and detail than you and I and your husband ever can during a prenatal meeting. This is extremely helpful in labor for you to have heard, and likely participated in, discussions about labor and birth. That way, for instance, if the nurse at the hospital tells you you are 80% effaced, you have an idea of what that means and won't give me the stink eye when I use my upside down coke bottle reference.
If childbirth classes are not an option, I highly recommend reading, reading, and MORE reading. But, the right kinds of things. Stay away from scary birth story blogs, or the internet as a whole. Read things by Ina May. Read The Birth Partner, with your partner. If nothing else, it will be a spring board for questions for you and your doula to discuss.
Thanks for your question,
As I continue my doula business over the years, more and more people ask if I have a blog. To share stories, experiences, answer questions. I usually respond with "well, I have a personal blog that I used as therapy during our pregnancy losses, but I haven't posted in ages." While, simultaneously thinking about how I really should start a new blog.
So, when a client's husband told me he thought of an awesome name for a blog for me, "dear Abney" where I could share the questions and answers I often hear I started thinking on it more. It stuck, and here we are. I'll post questions and answers from real clients, and frequently asked questions. I may even through in a few birth stories.
I am, by no means, a professional writer. I, likely, will make many typos, grammar errors, etc. But, I hope that my clients, and perspective clients, will find the questions and answers beneficial.
(Thanks, in advance, for being gracious with me on that writing front.)
To have a question answered, send me an email! email@example.com Let's get this party started, Pink style.