Friday, July 30, 2010

Post-Birth Feast

On Monday evening, the evening after the placenta was released, I finally cut my bracelet from the Blessingway Weaving a Web activity.

After both of my births, the first place I went right after getting home from the hospital, was out for sushi. Amy loves sushi and before the birth she had said that she wanted sushi as her post-birth meal celebration. Because of the placenta issue, though, we all got distracted. By Monday evening, the food that Curt cooked, finally mostly run out. We tried to muster the brain power to come up with something for dinner but we were struggling. Then, it came to me, sushi! As soon as I said it, we were both like,"Of course, how could we have forgotten about sushi!" Josh went to Fuji on Post and brought back a feast.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cross-Nursing, Cost-Posted

My View:
Stella was latching well and nursing frequently, but with the exception of the meconium she passed on the inside, she hadn't had a good meconium poop on the outside by the second day. Since she was peeing and nursing well, the plan was to go see the pediatrician in the morning if she still hadn't pooped. Amy called the pediatrician who suggested a butt-probe. I put some petroleum jelly on a q-tip and gently twisted it around. There was a bit of mec on it when we took it out, so we knew something was in there, but hours later at the 48 hours mark, it still hadn't passed.

Since I have full-on milk because I am still nursing, Amy asked me to nurse Stella. We had already planned to have me nurse and pump for Stella if Amy had to have a c-section or surgery for retained placenta. We felt that nursing would be a much more pleasant remedy than a more aggressive butt probe by the pediatrician or messing with finger feeding formula.

Stella is the first baby that I have nursed other than my own children. It was very natural. It seemed just the right thing to do. In fact, after she was born and I held her in the Moby as we were getting ready to go to the hospital, I had an instinct to nurse her. I didn't do it at that point because she had already been nursing from her mom and I was able to get her to sleep in the Moby.

She latched perfectly and nursed for about 30 minutes. Ian and Eva (my children) were very interested. I was surprised that Ian (who is almost 4) didn't find it strange at all that I was nursing another baby. Eva (16 months) is fascinated by Stella and just kept saying,"Baby! Baby!" She eventually did get jealous, though. I attempted tandem nursing, but couldn't get into a good position for both of them. Eva patted Stella as they nursed together.

When Stella finished nursing on one side, she let go, flashed a peace sign and relaxed into the milk-drunk happy state that babies get to when they have full bellies. I offered the second side, but she just played, so I took her back to Amy.

When Amy held her, she recognized mom and wanted to nurse again. Shortly after that she had a MASSIVE butt-plosion. Amy waited through several blasts before attempting to change her and even then, more was coming out. I felt strangely proud of myself for being able to clear her out like that. In fact, it worked so well that her next poop had only a little meconium and actual poop!

The Mom's View:
Stella latched on soon after birth while we were still in the pool. She wasn't really interested in nursing but she did make contact. After we got out of the pool, we realized I was bleeding a little too much, Danica the midwife, held Stella and my breast and latched her on and helped her feed while Dr. Chung and Rosa worked on me. The contractions and fundal massage where incredibly painful and my placenta had not passed so i was really not able to hold her and nurse her myself, especially while lying flat on my back. I was glad to have an extra set of arms so that Stella didn't miss out on that very important after birth skin to skin contact.

Over the next two days, nursing continued to go well. I knew I had colostrum and on day two after birth Stella began peeing in her diaper. She had not, however, passed meconium. Generally newborns pass meconium before they pee but pee is also a sign that baby is getting plenty of colostrum to stay hydrated. I wasn't worried about her getting enough to eat but I was concerned about the lack of poop. Most healthy newborns will pass meconium by 48 hours. Stella didn't have any symptoms of an intestinal blockage like a painful or distended belly or spitting up bile or bilirubin but I did worry that if she didn't pass the mec soon that she would become jaundiced.

I talked to Karen about it and we called the pediatrician who said to insert a q-tip just a bit to see if it would stimulate a poop. We tried it and it didn't work and really it just seemed mean even though we were really gentle about it. I knew that if we took her in that they would do it again but more aggressively and that they'd poke and prod the rest of her. I figured that a little extra fluid would be enough to push the poop right out but my milk hadn't come in yet. I didn't get milk until six days postpartum with Graham so I was a little worried about waiting because I didn't know how long it would take this time. Karen and I had already discussed her nursing Stella if i had a repeat c/s or surgery for the retained placenta so I knew she was ok nursing Stella if I wanted her to. I really wanted to avoid formula and bottles at all costs and Karen had no hangups about nursing someone elses baby. We decided once we hit the 48 hour mark after birth without a poop that we'd give it a shot.

Karen nursed Stella for about a half hour and the baby was quite content. I didn't feel the least bit weird about it, I was really grateful to not only have a friend close enough to do this but also to have a much more gentle approach to stimulating a poop. This just seemed like the natural course of action and even Karen's kids didn't seem phased by it. Of course, her 16 month old wanted in on the action but that's to be expected. Once Stella was finished, Karen brought her back to me in a milk coma. She did stir and want to nurse from me some more which was great because she knew she was back to mama. While I was nursing her she began to pass some rather loud and very smelly gas. I pumped her legs, pushing her knees up to her belly and held them with a little pressure, then released and repeated. After a couple of minutes Stella emptied out for a good five minutes. I gave her time to finish before I began to change her but she was still pooping when I opened the diaper so I just swapped it out for a clean one and let her lay on it while she finished. It was thick black tarry meconium and a lot of it. She pretty much cleaned herself out with that one poop. The next one she made, a few hours later, had only a little black mec and the rest was the yellow seedy breast milk fed baby poop. That was the last of the mec.

I was so excited. It was nice to have an instinct and be right and take care of her in a gentle peaceful way. And what better friend could a new mom ask for than one who will nurse your baby without a moments hesitation or thought about it? The funny thing is that almost immediately after all of this took place, i felt the tingling in my breast that signaled the beginning of engorgement. I knew my milk was on the way. By the next morning, I had a nice big full supply.

Coffee Date

She Runs:

She Blows Kisses:

She eats whipped cream and refuses to accept that iced lattes are not for babies.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lessons From Our Homebirth

By "our" I mean Amy's birth at my house.

1. Get a birth pool! Water is excellent for relaxation and pain relief--the aqua-dural as midwives call it. It also contains the mess if you give birth in the pool. We had the La Bassine. It is an oval-shaped pool which requires less water to get the depth you need. There are lots of options for birth pools, including rental. Here are some things to keep in mind:

*You need a pool that is deep enough to cover your belly.
*It should have inflatable sides and bottom for comfort and stability.
*You can buy a cheap pool (kiddie pool sometimes referred to as the fishy pool), but don't cheap out on accessories.
*The air pump will inflate and deflates the pool quickly.
*The submersible water pump will make clean up much easier.
*If you don't use a liner, you can get clearer video/pictures through the pool, however, using a liner makes cleaning up much easier. After you pump the water out, you just bag up the liner and through it away.
*You need two hoses: one for intake and one for out-take. This will enable you to remove cold water and add hot water without using buckets or having to reverse the hose. (We didn't have two hoses that reached and it was a pain in the butt and messy).
*As an alternative to two hoses, or in addition to, two hoses, you can get a submersible heater to keep the water warm. Removing water helps keep the water clean, though. Two hoses with a heater would help keep at least one hose clean.
*An waterproof flashlight is helpful.
*A fish net for removing "floaters".
*A tarp and sheet underneath for protecting the floor from water and keeping it from getting slippery.

2. You can never have too many towels. I was doing laundry all night to keep up with the towels and rags. A lot of the use was caused by the mishaps when reversing hoses or bucketing water in and out. Still, have lots of towels that can be used for messes.

3. Put out blankets and snacks for your birth team. It may be long and after you go into labor land, you will no longer be able to effectively host.

4. Put a sign on the door telling people not to ring the bell to limit disturbances or disconnect the bell.

5. Have a dedicated childcare provider for any children in the house. Our nanny help got us through, but it was still difficult. Amy's two year old, Graham alternated from giving her sweet kisses and pats, to dive bombing in the unfilled pool and jumping on her back during contractions. He was very calm during pushing even though she made loud noises, but he peed on the wall during pushing. He also got very upset when the baby came out. Some kids might have been upset by the noises mom makes in labor. It is just good to have options. The nannies were able to take him (and my kids) to play sometimes and keep them occupied. It was harder for Graham because he was not in his own house so Josh (his dad) had to provide most of the care for him in the house and couldn't be with Amy as much. There were many of us to attend to Amy and Josh did get some time with her, but little kids require attention and it is hard to predict how they will react. My kids were also running around and trying to get in the room. The nannies were able to keep them out for the most part, but they are still little kids and persistent. If we hadn't had help, it would have been total chaos with the three little ones!

6. Consider the lighting. I know better, but we ran out of time. In deep labor, most women like low-lighting. Having light sources set up to get better pictures while still keeping the lights low.

7. Waterproof case for iPod. It took awhile, but Amy dropped her iPod into the pool and then had to plug her head phones into her laptop which limited her mobility. If you aren't laboring in water, you could use a sports arm band, but in water, you might forget and dunk it.

8. Organize electronic equipment so you can keep everything charged. We did pretty well with this one, but it was hard. We had to really stay on top of things.

9. Have a hospital transfer bag with birth preferences. You will most likely not need it, but it is good to be prepared. Most transfers from homebirth are non-emergent, like ours. You still have options, even if you have a c-section. For example, Amy and Josh did not know the sex. Had she needed a c-section, Josh could have requested to be the one to announce the sex.

10. Don't throw your bra into the bloody pool when taking it off for skin to skin with the baby after birth. (Thank you, Biz for rescuing the expensive new bra).

11. Two layers of plastic sheets and cotton sheets on the bed. Even if you are planning a waterbirth, you should set the bed up as a birthing bed. Amy, did give birth in the water, but the midwife did AROM on the bed. You could always have SROM or bloody show on the bed as well. Many women who plan to give birth in the water have to get out because of a complication or they just decide in the moment that they do want out. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to get the bed ready for mom during pushing. With two layers of protection, you can take off the first layer after the birth or labor mess and mom and be in a clean, but still protected mattress. We had a king-sized bed for Amy and she bought king-sized plastic sheets for about $10 from the waterbirth site. They worked really well. and gave total mattress protection.

12. Post-partum herbal bath. Amy loved it. I'll have to get the link from her, but it was great. I drew the bath for her Sunday night and we drank out champagne as she relaxed.

13. Champagne and birthday cake and chocolates. Always a good idea. We didn't get to do the champagne toast until Monday afternoon when the doctor and nurse came to check on Amy and examine the placenta, but it was lovely, indeed.

14. Food: Big batches of microwaveable food. My husband went a little crazy Friday night with cooking, He didn't know what to do with himself and wanted to be useful so he cooked and cooked and cooked. The birth team was well-fed and we were able to keep eating for the next few days by just microwaving. Crockpot food would be good as well. Plenty of snacks and drinks on hand for mom and birth team.

15. Straw water bottle for mom so she doesn't have to worry about spilling. Amy had some of these, but forgot them.

16. Be aware of temperature control and have the ability to quickly change it by fans, blankets, a/c, etc. Moms get hot and cold quickly in labor. Eva destroyed the second a/c remote (in Korea every room has its own a/c unit) so we were constantly running
the remote back and forth until I finally found another remote.

Amy might have a few things to add to this list, but that is what comes to mind right away.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stella by Starlight: The Most Important Birth I've Ever Attended (HBWAC with Inverted T)

My friend Amy gave birth to a baby girl last night at my home in the water. It was an HWBAC with Inverted T. For those of you, not deeply involved in the birth world, that stands for Home Water Birth After Cesarean with Inverted T incision.

Amy and I started talking through my blog and over e-mail a few months before the Passion for Birth conference that Amy organized. When we met in person it was instant sisterhood. Just like the decision to marry my husband, there was no asking, I just knew: I would be with her at the birth. Due to the higher risk of rupture associated with her scar type*, the military hospital risked her out of a VBAC attempt. As a result, they were planning to request posting in Georgia with an early return of dependents so that she could VBAC with Dr. Tate outside of Atlanta. I own at house in Georgia because my sister is going to medical school there so I planned to go to Georgia for the summer and wait for her to give birth. In the midst of all these plans, I asked her why she didn't want to use Dr. Chung. She thought he wouldn't take her on, but hadn't asked him. Since I knew that he had attended a vaginal breech, I encouraged Amy to meet with him. Amy is very prepared and wanted to be taken seriously so she assembled a packet of information including a copy of the Landon Study (huge VBAC study) that shows the risks of rupture, no matter what the incision, to be very low. The study includes VBACs that were induced or augmented and women with multiple c-sections and alternative scar types and the rupture rate was still very low (1.9%, not the 15% that Amy was quoted by the doctor who performed her c-section). Dr. Chung accepted Amy and thanked her for providing the information. He encouraged her to give him anything she thought would make him a better doctor for her.

Anyway, from the Passion for Birth seminar (which was right around conception), we have been planning for this birth. I worked harder to prepare for this birth than my own VBAC, and I worked pretty hard for Eva's birth. Thankfully, Amy and I have the same cell provider or I would have had to re-mortgage the Georgia house to pay the bill.

When I scheduled my cesarean for breech, I felt like I had no other realistic options. After attending an ICAN meeting after Ian was born to support a friend, I left horrified and traumatized. My c-section was a very positive experience, but I heard woman tell stories of being brutalized and bullied by their care providers. The level of trauma was so deep and terrifying that I wanted to schedule my next c-section right then and there and I wasn't even pregnant. Carol Peterson, the childbirth educator from my pregnancy with Ian and Michelle Totleben, my doula from my pregnancy with Ian talked me off the ledge and I knew deep in my soul, that I would never feel powerless again. I decided that having a truly supportive care provider was the most important factor that I could control in a VBAC attempt. As such, I changed care providers three times and flew halfway around the world and still had to drive 2 hours to find the right provider for me.

Amy and I connected deeply because I understood exactly why she was planning to go such great lengths to have a VBAC attempt. In order for her to process her c-section, she researched and became a doula and childbirth educator. I told her that for my VBAC I decided to choose a supportive provider, do everything I could to prepare physically and emotionally and then choose to be at peace about whatever happened as long as I preserved my autonomy and was respected. I committed to her that we would work to do everything possible to prepare her in every way and that is what we did.

In order to support her, I became a doula. I attended 5 births before hers. I found it very intuitive, but there is a lot of processing for doulas to do after births and I am glad I had practice so that I could be the support she needed.

Our preparations:
Amy took a 12-week Bradley Method class during her first pregnancy. I used Hypnobabies for my VBAC and encouraged Amy to try it. I had a quick, manageable and intense but virtually painless VBAC. Amy is an internal laborer and I thought Hypnobabies on the iPod would work well with her style.
My friend and current doula partner, Rachel, had an incredible birth experience. The fact that she did not have a c-section, especially in Korea was astounding. She used the Pink Kit and it got her through. Because Amy had malpositioning problems in her first pregnancy, I thought the pelvic mapping might help. She had been in communication with Gail Tully of Spinning Babies since her first birth, but having the Pink Kit mapping allowed her to speak to Gail in Gail's language, which enabled Gail to help her from such a distance. Gail said that with Amy's anthropoid, yet, roomy pelvis, that engagement would be a problem, but birthing would not. That proved to be true.

Amy visited the chiropractor, drank red raspberry leaf tea and other herbs, ate a high-protein diet and watched her sugar in-take. She exercised and worked on Optimal Fetal Positioning using Spinning Babies exercises. We read birth stories and she was in touch with other inverted T moms.

I can't express how much physical, emotional and intellectual energy we put into the preparations. It was as if I was giving birth myself. We are both planners and were about to talk and plan for every scenario in detail. We had plans for ideal homebirth, hospital transfer and c-section. I believe in acknowledging all possibilities to create the best experience no matter what happens.

I threw a Blessingway for her to get her used to receiving, instead of giving. I invited some of the clients whose births had most impacted her an all of the local doulas. I wanted to make things beautiful and special to show her that she was worthy of effort and give her an opportunity to practice receiving.

Amy's husband had to go to the field and she lives 2 hours from Seoul. She was nervous about being away from home because she likes routine and structure and loves her dogs and her garden, but she was also dreading the 2 hours ride and didn't want to go into labor in Dongducheon. So, I urged her to just come. She arrived on her due date and began settling in. We ate good food made from vegetables from her garden. We walked a lot and readied the house. The kids played well together and we just tried to establish a routine. During the time she was here, her son Graham, helped Eva move to the next level of potty learning (going by herself) and Eva started talking A LOT. She came on Thursday, July 15 and started having contractions on Wednesday, July 21. They were noticeable, but mild so I tried to distract her with another walk to IPark Mall. We ate Ja Jang Myeon and sweet and sour chicken at a Chinese restaurant that she used to frequent when she lived in Seoul.

She didn't have a girl's name and didn't know the sex, so I got out some baby name books and we started playing on the Nymbler baby name site. I kept saying names and she rejected most of them. Finally, we had a list of 6 and I said,"I like Stella the best. That name was on my list before. It's very yell-able, an important quality in choosing a kid's name. "

Then I yelled,"Stelllllll-laaa!"

She said,"That's what Josh said when I mentioned it before."

I said,"What about Stella by Starlight? She didn't know it, so I played it for her and she liked it. Instantly, we knew that Stella was the name. She texted her husband and he texted back that he liked it.

She told her husband that she was having some mild contractions and he decided to come to Seoul. They left my house and checked into the Dragon Hill Lodge on Post to spend some private time as a family of three.

Thursday, the contractions were more regular and a little more noticeable. They walked and walked. I spent the evening nesting. I mended the birds from the Blessingway (that represented the clients she'd doula'd for), washed the sheets and made up the birthing bed, used her steam cleaner on everything and cooked a big pasta salad. My body must have known something was happening because I posted on Twitter that I was nesting. I went to bed at 1am, the same time that Amy was awakened by a contraction. She texted me about 3am that she was having contractions that she couldn't sleep through. We decided they should pack up and come back to my house. I moved Ian into my room so they could put Graham down and waited for them to arrive.

They came about 4:30am and I sent a text to Dr. Chung letting him know that she was warming up but didn't need him, yet. She put on Easy First Stage of Labor (Hypnobabies) and worked through the contractions all day Friday. They were steady and more intense, but she was still social in between. She was surprised by how different the labor felt from the first time. Even though we had lots of nanny help during the week leading up to the birth and throughout the birth, managing the children was a challenge. The nannies saved our sanity and kept the chaos to a manageable level. Josh (her husband) went out for supplies and to get lunch for their son Graham. The nanny took my kids to the playground and we took a short nap. After lunch, Amy and Josh went for a walk. She continued to labor on the birth ball and she had most of the day because, in accordance with Pink Kit principles, it made the contractions come and it made her feel open in the pelvis. She kept herself amused by updating Facebook. Her contractions started to space out so at 3:32pm, I tried a Hip Lift (Pink Kit maneuver) and she said,"That did something!" With her pelvic shape it made a lot of sense to create space that way. I tried the other side and contractions picked up in intensity. I texted Rachel (my doula partner) and she happened to be near my house. She came over. Amy took a shower and then we tried the Hip Lift again. Again, there was a major shift in intensity and she was no longer talking between contractions (and I could no longer make note of important details like,"Ticklish right butt-cheek during Hip Lift"). It was about 6pm. At 6:15pm, Danica (Dr. Chung's midwife) called to check in on us. (I told her it was time for her to come. I had to start doing her Facebook updates!)They were eating dinner so I told them to take their time, but make their way over. Danica arrived and checked o the baby. Dr. Chung, Midwife Rosa and Danica ate and camped out in the office. (My husband, was frenetically cooking because he didn't know what else to do. He made chicken, risotto, carmelized mushrooms and chicken wings. We got him to make chocolate covered strawberries as well since Amy was beyond making them as a labor project).

To doula for a mom who is also doula is a difficult job because it is hard the doula mom to stop being a doula and just be a mom. Because she had been a very internal laborer with her first, I tried to be present, but hands off. She was managing well and we just hung out for the first day. It was interesting because there were some things that she wouldn;t accept from me, that she accepted from others like pouring water over her back or light touch massage. I tried to do them, but she said to stop before she gave herslf a chance to see if she liked it. Then Danica did those things and she didn't feel as free and quick to tell her to stop so she realized she liked them and later asked me to do it as well. Mainly, she needed the temperature adjusted (a/c on and off), water, and chapstick. Pretty easy to meet except that Eva had destroyed the second a/c remote so the one we had kept disappearing to other rooms. Finally, I found another remote. Her chaptick kept getting lost on the bed or walking out the room in someone's pockets. While trying to manage the kid craziness, the birth pool and laundry, we struggled a bit to find our rhythm to help her with these needs and handle the chaos in the house. There were 12 people there at one point so it was a bit mof a mad house, but the room she was birthing in was on the far end of the house so I think we did quite well considering.

About midnight, she requested a vaginal exam. She was complete, but still at minus 2. I put the champagne glasses in the refrigerator because I thought she'd surely be done by morning. Rosa had Amy do 30 minutes of abdominal lifting followed by 30 minutes of hip swaying, followed by an hour of laying on her side with her bottom arm under her (classic Bradley position that Amy hates). Everyone went sleep by Josh, Amy and I. Amy started to lose it during this point. She said,"I can't do this. It hurts too much."

I stayed right with her and said,"Yes you can. You can do it until 4am. Rosa said to do it for an hour. Just do one at a time."

She struggled and lost her focus and control. She said,"I'll do one more contraction and then I have to get up."

I said,"OK, but stay down during this last contraction."

She did and I looked at the clock,"You did it, you made it to 4am!"

She got back in the pool. Everyone was asleep at this point and telling me that I should sleep also. "I'll sleep when it doesn't matter." I knew I couldn't leave her. The light was coming through the window and she said,"I can't do this anymore. It is time to go to the hospital. I need an epidural or a c-section. It's just not worth it. A VBAC at what cost?"

She said this with a bossy, confident tone. I chose not to believe her. I had to muster my strength and get tough with Amy Fuller. I remembered all the things she said to clients or said about certain labors and just calmly looked at her and said,"Your water hasn't broken, you still have options. No one else is talking like this so why even go there. And besides, everyone is sleeping."

She glared at me as if to say,"Wake them up."

I gave her "the Korean shrug and smile".

She barked back at me,"I'm tired."

I said with complete yoga perfection,"So sleep."

She huffed and laid her head on the side of the pool and went to sleep. She was in an extremely relaxed sleep between contractions. When she had one, she'd wake and rocked her hips in the pool. I just sat on the bed watching her and thought about the yoga principle of "faithfulness". In my yoga class, during Sambhavi Mudra in meditation, You had to think of images to conjure feelings of Pride, Artistry, Ego, Solidity and Faithfulness. I always chose to visualize myself by Amy's side in labor. After awhile, I dozed on the bed between contractions. She woke up about 2.5 hours later. She had gotten a good rest and her contractions were spacing. She got out of the pool and Rosa checked her. The baby was still minus 2, but had changed position. Dr. Chung told me to rest. I left the room and went to cry.

Out in the livingroom, I told Dr. Chung that I felt guilty that my VBAC had been so easy and that Amy's was so hard. Dr. Chung told me that we have different bodies and that," Amy just needs more time. Everything with Amy takes more time." He also said,"Empathy is good, but sympathy won't help anyone. You have to be strong in your face."

I told him that I had been strong with her overnight, but I was starting to worry. But, I realized that he was not worried and neither was Rosa, so I went to take a short nap and relaxed. He said,"The body is wise and she probably needs to rest, so she should rest."

Her contractions had spaced to the point that she went in the livingroom. It was like she wasn't in labor anymore. Rachel left when the nanny arrived for the day. After I woke up, I got her something to eat. She puked, ate and puked again. Her contractions picked up. Dr. Chung discussed the options of going to SCH to break the water. Amy asked if he could do it at the house,"He said he's consider it." Rosa had wanted to break the water earlier and was confident that she could do it safely. So, after everyone, including Amy discussing things, we decided that they would go to lunch and break the water upon their return. When they got back, they monitored the baby and then Rosa broke the water during a contraction. The baby's head moved down and Amy started pushing. There was light meconium in the water and baby's heart rate elevated so they put Amy on oxygen. After the baby recovered, she got back in the tub. I knew she'd have to be loud, but might not want to be so I told her to be a lion and "roar the baby out". She did! She pushed and pushed with her urges in the pool. It took a few hours, but finally the baby's head was out. I said,"The head is out Amy, you did it!" Josh poised himself to catch and Stella slid out. Amy's son Graham, who had been watching quietly during pushing and her roaring and was not disruptive at all (except when he full-on peed on the wall next to the birth pool and cracked us up by saying,"Oh shit" over and over) lost it when he saw the baby. He shreiked and cried and had to be taken out of the room. Poor, little guy! Amy held her baby and looked around. I hugged her while trying to run video and take pictures and said,"You did it! A freaking miracle!" I started crying from relief and joy. Amy lifted the baby's leg and said,"It's Stella."

I grabbed my laptop and played,"Stella by Starlight". It was 8:10pm, so it was indeed by starlight.

But, the story wasn't over, because, as Dr. Chung says,"Everything with Amy takes more time." Her placenta didn't pass. She was bleeding so he massaged her uterus to slow it down and tried to gently help the placenta release. Danica nursed Stella with Amy's breast while Amy endured. After a few hours, Dr. Chung suggested transferring to SCH for monitoring overnight. Josh put Graham to bed and I wrapped Stella in the Moby. Then, we made our way to SCH. I got them settled and helped Josh wrap Stella in the Moby. I got home about 1:30 am and relieved the nanny.

Dr. Chung visited her the next day. Her bleeding was normal and labs showed no signs of infection. He decided to let her come back to my house and monitor daily to see if the placenta would come out on its own before attempting a manual or surgical extraction since she had an anterior placenta and a partial vertical incision. About 1:30am, Josh knocked on my door and said,"Karen, the placenta's out!"

I went to the bathroom and there it was on the floor. I got a bucket to put it in so Dr. Chung could examine it the next day, but remarkably, it looked complete. Then I grabbed my camera. Amy laughed at me and I said,"Well how are you going to do the blog post if I don't take a picture?"

They were trying to come up with a middle name and I said,"What about "Kim" or "Rose" or "Rosa" to honor the Korean team (After the Korean Midwife Kim Ok-Jin, also known as Rosa) that helped make this possible. Amy thought that Rose was perfect and so they called her Stella Rose. Stella means "star" and the stars had to be aligned for this to happen. What a perfect, beautiful and meaningful name for a gorgeous baby girl.

She was able to go home today. We are all amazed and inspired and have learned so much from this journey and this birth. Here is the story from her perspective. Even though both of these posts are incredibly long, we are leaving out lots of details. We could really write a book.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Peer Pressure Potty Learning

Friend A and her 2 year old son have been staying with me while waiting for her baby to make his/her appearance. Before they arrived, I had successfully gotten Eva to use the little potty (she usually goes on the big toilet with a seat reducer but she can't do that herself). She never liked to sit on it before. She even went a few times on her own initiative. Then, G came and he uses a little potty. Eva has taken a giant leap in potty learning! If she is diaper-free, she will go to the potty on her own. If she is wearing underwear or a diaper, she will go sit on the potty and pee into her underwear/diaper. So, the next step will be getting her to take her underwear off before she goes.

As long as G is pants-free, he goes on the potty, but he seems to have the same problem as Eva when he has underwear on. He goes on the potty sometimes and sometimes he doesn't. He actually started to get interested in peeing standing up when he saw Ian do it. Unfortunately, Ian has been at school all day so G hasn't fully gotten it. Ian has a school break now, though, I am sure A would rather have her baby soon and go home than stay and have her son move on to the big potty. I think once he does it successfully a few times, he will be hooked. That is the way is seems to go with little boys.

I try to assist her dumping so the contents actually make it into the toilet and then I wash it out and let her carry it back. The interesting thing is that she stopped peeing in her diaper overnight and during naps months ago. Since she has been going to the potty self-initiated, she has been going in her sleep!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Doula Bag

I've been using an old, beat up roller bag for my doula bag, but Amy surprised me with a Doula Backpack from with lots of fun things inside to try out. The bag has a waist strap so I can be hands-free to help the mom if I need to walk from the Stork's Nest to the hospital with her. Should have a couple of chances soon!

Holy Eggplant!

Scalini's restaurant in Georgia is famous for "Eggplant Babies", that is, babies born within 48 hours of their mothers eating Scalini's Eggplant Parmigiana. They have shared their recipe on tv and online. To celebrate my friend, Amy's, due date, we decided to make it.

It was FABULOUS! The recipe is definitely a keeper. She didn't go into labor last night, but her friend who lives their said that you need to drink a glass of red wine with it for it to work. We may have to test that theory with the leftovers!

We used fresh basil (from Amy's garden), parsley and rosemary. We used canned tomatoes because they are so much easier and Amy's tomatoes suffered a tragic end. We used whole milk ricotta and what a difference! We also grated the Romano and Parmesean cheeses ourselves. Devine and delish!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


For brother:

For baby:

I made the dress. Again, I am a much better dress designer than seamstress, but it is wearable:


Maneuvers like this...

finally caught up to her...

It is a wonder anyone survives childhood!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Maybe It Is Time to Think About Sleep...

I've been a parent for 46 months and I have just picked up my first sleep book. I am starting to read sleep books for two reasons:
1. I need to be able to help my doula clients.
2. I need to make some changes at home. I am actually having sleep issues!

So, for some background on me and sleep. I never took naps as a baby or toddler. I took cap naps as an infant, but I stopped daytime sleep pretty early and never had a regular nap schedule. As an adult, I can sleep through noise and changes and generally fall asleep easily. I probably stay awake too late, though.

Ian fell asleep when he was tired and woke up when he was ready to wake up. I could transfer him from the bay carrier to the carseat to the baby carrier over and over again and he would stay completely asleep until he was ready to wake up. He was uneffected by light or noise.

Eva slept most of the first 6 months of her life. She, too, slept well and could be taken anywhere and still stay asleep. That was then....

So onto the sleep issues. Ian has been whiny and difficult since last summer, right before he turned three. I have thought it was just an annoying developmental phase, but I am starting to think it is due to a sleep shortage. He has always had a late bedtime, but he used to sleep in late as well. Since he started preschool, his bedtime is earlier, but he also has to get up earlier. Since he started Korean preschool (which is longer) in February, he has lost his afternoon nap.

Eva, an absolute angel for the first 6 months and fairly easy up until about a year old, has become hell on wheels for the last few months. She has had more babysitting during the day and has stopped napping for her babysitter, especially if other kids are around. She has also started waking up if I have to transfer her from carrier/stroller to carseat. She stopped nursing to sleep a lot earlier than Ian did, but we solved that by Curt putting her to sleep. However, at night she has been crazy night-waking. She jumps up and dive rolls over me and pushes against me to keep herself awake while nursing. Ian was powerless against the breast. I had to stop nursing him to sleep at 18 months because he started to resist falling asleep. However, if he woke up during the night, he would nurse quickly and stay asleep when I popped him off. Eva does not fall asleep, she screeches and dive rolls to my other side. She is good for most of the night, but the second half of the night is becoming more difficult.

Time for some changes.

Why did it take so long to figure out? Because they didn't have sleep problems before and their behavior isn't typical of the kids who do have sleep problems when they get tired. Meaning, it isn't that the behavior gets a lot worse over the course of the day, but that their behavior the whole day is worse than it used to be.

I have the No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby by Marc Weissbluth to start my reading. I will probably read what Dr. Sears has to say as well.

So, before I read, here's what I think I should do:

1. Ian-He either needs to go to bed earlier or add his afternoon nap back in or both. In order to accomplish this, I need to be more organized about dinner so that dinner happens earlier and then the bedtime routine needs to follow shortly afterwards. Right now, I finish the bedtime routine sometime between 8:30 and 9:30 if I am not paying attention to time. I would like to change that to turning the lights out between 7:30 and 8:00 (8:30 at the latest).

2. Eva-July will be tough because she will have a lot of babysitting as I help 4 moms get ready for birth. However, I need to get her to bed earlier as well and work with the babysitters to put her to sleep during the day. In August, when we are back in the US, she'll have jet lag to deal with, but hopefully I can get her down for at least 1 good, long afternoon nap. She was taking two solid naps a day up until a few months ago. I don't know if she needs to go back to two naps a day, but she definitely still needs one nap. Also, I am going to try to move her into the crib and out of our bed. When I am with her more in the day, I will concentrate on breastfeeding her more during the day and reducing or eliminating night feedings. She doesn't eat very well and since I am gone from her a lot during the day for my studying and doula work, I do not want to eliminate night feedings unless I can feed more during the day or she starts eating/drinking more food/cow's milk during the day. I really think that full changes will have to wait until September when we are back from our trip and she has recovered from jet-lag, but I know that improvements can be made in the meantime.

I will let you know if the behavior improves as a result. Ian has always been intense but he was much more pleasant when he was sleeping more. Hoping more sleep or turning 4, will bring back the cool kid I used to know! A return of my sweet angel (with a little bit of spunk) would be nice as well.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

ButterSugarCream Custom Cupcakes in Seoul

I linked to my friend Gerry's blog, ButterSugarCream in my Blessingway Menu post but she really deserves a post of her own, especially for those of you searching Google. Gerry does excellent and tasty custom cupcakes and cakes and best of all for the expat, she speaks English and is an expat herself so communication is much easier.

She is only just getting started and she did a great job rescuing me at the last minute when I ran out of time to do it on my own. Just imagine what she can do if you actually plan in advance!

Infant Massage Class in Seoul

I took a 1-session infant massage class in the US when Ian was 5 weeks old. He was the youngest baby there and all the 3 month olds looked like Jabba-the-Hut to me. It was fun and though, I didn't use it on a regular basis with my kids, I'm glad to have the knowledge in my parenting toolbox if I need it. Infant massage can be particularly helpful with gassy and fussy babies, but there doesn't need to be a problem in order to use it. In fact, it can be a lovely addition to your bedtime routine and great for bonding with baby.

My friends Karlien and Linda are certified infant massage instructors and will be offering classes starting in August/September. Visit the Seoul Infant Massage website for more details.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Happy VBAC Anniversary to Shelley/Happy Birthday to Reese

Right after my VBAC, I told my doula, Kelly, that if she had any other VBAC clients who wanted to talk, I would be happy to share my experience. As fate would have it, Kelly's next client was a VBAC mom. We talked by e-mail and phone. Eva was born in March and she was due towards the end of June. I went back to Korea at the end of April, but I did get the birth announcement, that baby Reese was born by VBAC!

Today, I got an e-mail from her because they just celebrated Reese's first birthday and she was thinking about her birth. I have been thinking about her since Eva's birthday since she was one of the first VBAC moms I encouraged. She was already preparing and planning to do it and taking all the right steps, I just tried to pass on some of the support that I received and share my positive story as a way of cheering her on. Even though, I played a very small role in her birth preparations, she remembered. One year later, she remembered.

I am amazed, humbled and encouraged by that to continue my work which will sometimes be just sharing my story over e-mail and sometimes, by attending them as a doula.

It is funny because we both used the same Martha Stewart Dahlia decorations for their first birthdays. Here are pictures from Eva's birthday.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blessingway Menu

The menu for the Blessingway Curt made EVERYTHING:
Mint Lemonade (recipe in Mother Rising book)

Quinoa Salad from Girls Gone Child Blog: Curt used blackberries instead of blueberries because that was what we could get.

Chevre Deviled Eggs with Asparagus

Lemon Pasta Salad from the Mother Rising book (this was a big hit)

Avocado-Cucumber Soup (I wouldn't make this again, but it was interesting. Those avocados would have been better in guacamole)

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Fresh fruit

The the cupcakes! Amy likes to garden and since gardening is a great metaphor for birth, I thought these would be perfect. Unfortunately, with the doula training the three days before the Blessingway and my lack of skill, I needed to call in some reinforcements. It is good to have talented friends! My friend Gerry has just started a custom cake/cupcake decorating business. She graciously came to my rescue and decorated the cupcakes. You can see more examples of her work on her blog.

I messed up one of the signs as I was putting it in. Not Gerry's fault! Good thing I didn't try to do the whole thing by myself!

Photos by Chalica Pack of Chalica Pack Photography

Blessingway for Amy

Amy and I have been talking about her pregnancy and preparing for her birth practically since conception. I think it is really special when a doula prepares to give birth. Doulas spend so much time and energy into supporting other women through their births, but sometimes it is hard to receive support when you are used to giving it. I decided to gather the doulas for Amy for a proper Blessingway, to infuse her with positive energy and support and prepare her for birthing and mothering her second child.

I bought a few books to look for Blessingway inspiration:

Mother Rising by YanaCortland, Barb Lucke, Donna Miller Watelet

Blessingways-A Guide to Mother-Centered Baby Showers-Celebrating Pregnancy, Birth and Motherhood by Shari Maser


I did the invitations on Pingg because you have the option of printing and mailing hard copies, but the convenience of an online invitation. I wish I could have have more design freedom, but I liked the template well enough and it was free. If you upgrade your Pingg membership you have access to more templates and more design freedom. I printed two copies, one for me and one for Amy.


Inspiration fabrics from Dongdaemun, materials for the Blessingway

19 Fabric Birds (pattern from Spool) representing the 19 babies whose births Amy attended as a doula. The birds were supposed to be suspended in a mobile, but I ran out of time, so I went with it as a table decoration:

The Program:

Welcome and Introduction (Music Deva Premal Om Hraum Mitraya)

Washing with Rose Water to rinse away cares and bring our energies to Amy:

Casting the Circle and Statement of Purpose

Centering: Eyes closed and conscious focus of energy

Tea Ceremony/Toast with Mother Blessing Tea (recipe in Mother Rising book)

Amy's Statement to the Guests (what each person has taught her and why she wanted them present)

Fear Burning/Affirmations

Due to sprinkler systems, Amy just read her fears and ripped them up. After she ripped up the paper she replaced the fear statement with an affirmation statement. Then, the guests repeated the affirmation statement to her.

Presentation of the crown:

Presentation of the beads where each guest gives the beads they picked for Amy and what they represent:

Rachel and Nicole strung them together to make a bracelet:

Presentation of the Quilt:

I embroidered inspirational symbols from the Mother Rising book and used the fabric from the birds and table cloths. The symbols are: Japanese Seed of Universe, Celtic Spiral of Life, Hecate's Wheel with the Three Phases of Womanhood, African Sesa Woruban which means,"I transform my life", Hopi Tapu'at Mother and Child which represents the path to emergence and spiritual rebirth.
Poems and stories from the guests:

Weaving a Web (everyone ties yarn around there wrist until we are all connected and a web has form. The idea is that everyone cuts themselves free and keeps the bracelet until the baby is born):

Laying on hands with wishes for the baby:

Closing Message for Amy

Opening the Circle (Music Deva Premal Om Sree Sachee)

Birth Canal Exit (Guests form an archway and she walks through)

Group Photo:

And then we ate, but I will cover that in a separate post.

I was going to do some yoga with the group, but with the training, I didn't have time to practice so that I'd feel comfortable leading it. Also, I did get henna to do henna on Amy's belly and the guests hands, but I haven't worked with it before so I was worried about making a big, disorganized mess. Instead, we will do henna when Amy comes down and is waiting for labor to start.

Photo by Chalica Pack of Chalica Pack Photography