Monday, August 23, 2010

Then and Now: First Haircut

Eva got her first hair cut today at the same salon with the same stylist (Carlie) that Ian did. Ian was 16 months and Eva is 17 months.

Ian got his hair cut today as well. He sat and cooperated and showed Eva just what to do. Before we went in, Ian said,"Mom, I just want you to cut my hair."

I said,"Trust me, you really don't. I can't even cut wrapping paper properly."

Post hair cut lollipops. Ian said,"Can we come here to get our hair styled again?"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Then & Now: Erie Zoo Playground

Ian at 14 months (2007) and Eva at 17 months (today):


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2010 Mountain Buggy Terrain Stroller

Eva, 17 months:

Ian, almost 4 years:

We bought a Mountain Buggy Urban Double Elite Stroller last Christmas and the only thing we regret about that purchase is that we didn't do it sooner. It pushes like a dream, even goes over snow. Curt likes to take them in the 5K Fun Runs in it, but it is great just strolling around. It is also nice when I share a babysitter because the babysitter can take Eva and the other child to the playground easily.

On this trip, I brought my 2006 Inglesina Zippy stroller on the plane. I am going to leave it at my parents' house and bring the 2010 Mountain Buggy Terrain stroller back in its place! I have a MacLaren Volo as well and it is a great lightweight umbrella stroller.

I am not a serious running (or even a non-serious jogger), but I love the smooth push of jogging strollers. Since I fall into the "urban" category more than the "runner" category, I like the flexible of a multi-position wheel. The MBT can be fixed rear for sand and snow, fixed forward for running on pavement or in swivel mode for strolling around. I will probably use it in swivel mode most of the time. I love that I don't have to tip the stroller back to go over curbs or fight the stroller on hills.

Some of the features that I like:

*Multi-position wheel as previously described
*Large air-filled tires
*Height-adjustable handle
*Harness adjusts without rethreading (love this!)
*Reinforced back
*Metal & plastic foot plate (easier to keep clean than fabric)
*Foot break for parking and hand break for running
*Better canopy than older models of Mountain Buggy
*Zippered basket
*Sleeker look than other comparable strollers

It comes with two water bottle holders and a bumper bar. I bought a tire pump (I think it really should come with one, but it wasn't that much), a rain cover (because I live in Seoul and it rains a lot) and a travel bag. We travel frequently, but even one airline trip, even if you gate check, can destroy a stroller so I strongly suggest a travel bag if you are going to take it on a plane.

Curt is going to run with it in a 5K over Labor Day so we'll be able to put it to the test.

Great-Grandma agrees it is a dream to push:

Eva enjoying the view:


Eva was terrified of the dogs when we first arrived. By the next day she was petting them and saying,"Dog! Teddy! Ossy (Roxxy)!" By the second day:

Backyard Adventures

At the Beach

It was a wee bit windy:

Working Out With Uncle Dave

Friday, August 13, 2010

EC Update #7

I didn't want to lose the progress Eva made while Graham was staying with us in July, so I had a potty sent to my moms house and brought Eva's underwear. As soon as we arrived, I put her in panties. She is dry overnight and during naps. If she is bare-bottomed, she gets everything on the potty. In underwear, she sits on the potty without pulling them down and pees through them. To me, that counts! She got it on the potty. I just need to pay attention so I can get them down until she figures it out on her own. In underwear, sometimes she just pees and doesn't get to the potty, so I have her with a bare bottom in a dress, mostly. She is really doing well. I even took her to Borders in underwear. She fell asleep in car and was dry the whole time.

I don't know when she'll be at potty independence, but we've only used 1 diaper in 4 days!

Read about Amy's EC journey with 3 week old Stella.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Business of Being a Doula

Doula work is so intimate and personal that talk of money can seem distasteful and awkward. We don't do this work for the money, we do it because we love to support women through one of life's most defining experiences. However, being a doula involves heavy investments of time, emotion and money. Most of us working in Seoul have small children, so while we are meeting with women prenatally or supporting them at a birth, we are paying for babysitting for our own children. There are also travel and food expenses associated with doula work. In the beginning, most doulas jump in without consideration to the business aspect. Fees are very low to gain experience. Contracts aren't written or aren't signed until long after the work has begun.

And then...

You get burned.

This was a fiery summer in Seoul doula-land with several of us involved in some disappointing situations. Doula work, like business arrangements involving family, must be very clean and clear in the business aspects to avoid problems like the ones we experienced.

One "client" I asked to commit to us by a certain date because if I took her as a client I would have to rearrange my summer travel. Since she did not live in Seoul, we allowed her to wait until the prenatal to give the contract and deposit. She was supposed to call to tell me the time of her appointment and we would meet before or after, but she never did. I called her but they were leaving the appointment so I prepared some e-mails and we planned to meet the next week. J, my partner for that birth, and I met and discussed this client at length. We mailed materials to her and sent elaborate e-mails and prepped for the prenatal. She was hard to get a hold of and I had started to suspect she didn't want to use us but didn't know how to tell us. The prenatal never happened because she went into labor and did not call us. She said it "happened so fast there was no time" and then proceeded to tell me her 12 hour birth story. I instruct all my clients to call as soon as they "think" the might be in labor so I can make arrangements. I knew she was not telling the truth and that they had decided not to call us or decided to wait and see if they really needed us before calling. I could also tell that she did not think she owed us any money, though in our view she had committed to the deposit at least. I just wanted to get my stuff back which took three trips and was annoying, but I did get back. I just congratulated her and let her get away with it. My doula partner J, gracefully confronted her. It didn't go over well, but not horrible either. It did confirm our suspicions about what was going on with the situation.

I should have had her sign the contract and pay the deposit before I started working for her. She didn't understand the work we put in and the expenses I had. I did send her an e-mail backing up J after she talked to her. The client did not respond.

Another doula had a client cancel her services on the client's due date. The client hadn't officially signed the contract or paid the deposit and did not think that she owed anything. She had verbally committed, though and the doula considered the paperwork to be just a formality. Apparently, the parents had other ideas.

What parents need to understand is that when they hire a doula, the doula makes a big commitment to them. Doulas don't travel as much. They are on-call. If you hire a doula, but do not call her for your birth or cancel her services on your due date, you need to understand that she did not take another client because of her commitment to you. She did not take a vacation because of her commitment to you. You owe her the deposit at least.

There was another situation that was just muddy because expectations were not the same and not made clear. "We'll figure it out later" or "whatever you think I'm worth" is not good business practice. It is not good relationship practice as well because it you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

With the new doula business venture that Rachel and I are starting together, we are trying to keep the business aspect clean and clear. The first interview is just about doulas in general and what a doula can do for a family at a birth. Personalized consultations or recommendations will only be given after the contract is signed and the deposit has been paid. Why? Because they take a lot of time. Because they are part of the services that you are paying for. Because they can make the 1 hour interview meeting turn into a several hour event, an event that we are not getting paid for, but that we are paying for babysitting to attend.

With our clients going forward, we will go over the contract line-by-line at the contract signing and deposit payment so that everyone understands the expectations. I think that most people have good intentions, but when expectations don't match, someone will be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Guest Post: Breastfeeding Through Adversity

This was written by Stephanie. Her birth was my first observation birth and though, it didn't end as planned, the experience taught me a lot. Even more impressive was the way that she and her husband Kevin are handling the aftermath of a non-healing incision post-c-section, with grace, humor and dedication to each other and their daughter, Sierra.

From Stephanie:

Adversity and Breastfeeding
*Please note, this is a lengthy post to try and convey our breastfeeding experience
I was due to give birth with our first child toward the end of January 2009 and I currently live in South Korea because my husband is in the military. Since I was living “outside of my comfort zone” I didn’t feel prepared to give birth and wanted a little more reinforcement. I was put in touch with a doula that a friend of mine used during her delivery about 5 months prior. After meeting with our doula, Amy, I realized that she was going to aid in my ability to have my baby naturally. I had never even thought about having a baby without the use of pain medication until I reached a certain point in my pregnancy and I thought about how I didn’t even want to take over-the-counter medication that was approved, why did I want to take “a cocktail” of drugs to just give birth.

Short summary of labor and delivery
I was 41 weeks and 1 day when I finally went into labor. I did not want to be induced and I had been monitored on a regular basis to make sure my baby was not under any stress. I spent several hours in a place set-up for expecting mothers that do not live on the army installation where I was going to give birth. I had my husband, Amy, and a doula-in-training, Karen, with me to help me achieve the birth plan that my husband and I set-up. I spent approximately 12 to 14 hours in the alternate location working through my labor before we decided as a group that it was time for me to be admitted to the hospital. I then spent another 14 to 16 hours working through contractions in the hospital. After a total of 30 hours of being in labor, the current doctor came in and told me that I had been in labor for too long and I was not progressing on my own and they had to intervene medically. At that point, I had been through a tough labor because my baby had flipped and was in an OP position several hours prior. My doula’s, husband, and I were all getting exhausted after my lengthy laboring process and once the doctor came into the room and made her statement that I wasn’t going to be able to do it on my own terms, my concentration was broken and I broke down in my husband’s arms. I remember stating to him, “get this baby out of me if she is not going to come out the way I want…NOW!!! I didn’t want to feel another contraction if it wasn’t going to result in the birth that I had discussed and worked for over the past 2 days. I would like to note that if the doctor would not have stopped us I would have probably continued for several more hours because I didn’t want to have drugs or a c-section. Would the outcome changed, I don’t really know. I do know that at the time both the baby and I were still medically okay. I then felt required to allow them to give me an epidural, what other choice did I have, and pitocin to help regulate my contractions and to allow them to “break my water.” I was then allowed to rest for about an hour while the “medical intervention” took effect. I had finally dilated and began to push for a few hours, but my baby stayed at 0 station and was not descending. My husband and I were then faced with the question of if we wanted them to use forceps or a vacuum. Thankfully I was semi-educated, due to my own research and my doula, and I didn’t want something attached to my unborn child’s head, if preventable. We opted for a c-section because it was the safest choice for our baby. In hindsight I wish I would have asked to push for longer since we were both still medically fine. However, I don’t know if I would have been allowed.

The recovery following a c-section is very difficult and changes what you anticipate following birth. I was very firm when I told the nursing staff I did not want my baby to have formula or a pacifier after birth, unless medically there was a reason and my husband and I needed to be consulted first. After birth I was separated from my little girl, Sierra, for a little over an hour, but began to “try” my hand at breastfeeding almost the minute I was given her. She latched right on and I was elated to say the least. This was only the second item on our birth plan that was accomplished. The first was my husband announcing the gender of our baby.

1st Breastfeeding hurdle
Our attending pediatrician came into our room on one occasion to discuss with us his concern because Sierra had not began urinating and it was now a day after her birth. He told us if she didn’t urinate within the next 12 hours she would be transferred to a Korean hospital for additional care and treatment. My mind went into immediate overdrive. I knew that my body was providing Sierra colostrum and it should have been adequate, so I wasn’t worried about her getting the correct nutrition because I knew she was. Amy had helped with the education and I also read a couple of baby books and searched the internet. However, we now had another hurdle. I asked what can we/I do to help this along. I told the pediatrician that I really wanted to continue breastfeeding, but if she needs more liquid in her diet that my body isn’t producing at this point to help her urinate that I was willing to do what she needed so that she didn’t have to leave me. At that point, it was a double-edged sword because if she left she would be given formula anyways because I couldn’t be released yet. He suggested that I nurse Sierra for five minutes and then I let my husband give her formula. We did this every hour for the next three hours and Sierra probably consumed less than 2 ounces of formula the entire time. However, she peed on the nurse while she was being examined 3.5 hours later. A huge relief!!! We were in the clear.

7 days after the birth of Sierra a portion of my c-section incision opened up. This is one aspect of a c-section that is not publicized and is fairly common. My husband and I were very concerned for my safety because we didn’t know what had just happened. I didn’t feel any pain, but I had a substantial amount of fluid on my clothes, fluid on the seat where I was sitting, and it was still minimally coming out of my incision. We called our medical care provider in our area and were advised that I would be fine and to come in the morning. Just what every new, paranoid mother wants to hear. After seeing the medical team in our area they called my attending OB doctor and we had an appointment with her the following day. We were told this is fairly common, and that we should begin packing it with gauze and changing it twice a day. I also started having medical appointments twice a week at the hospital I delivered at which is over an hour away, one-way. My husband was now my primary provider of the dressing changes. I was still recovering from a c-section, now had an open incision, and was still nursing Sierra exclusively. I did not even let the idea of a bottle and formula into my mind. She was too young and I wanted to prevent the likelihood of nipple confusion. There would be times in the early days of breastfeeding that I would be feeding Sierra and my husband would literally be feeding me food because there was so much going on around us. My husband could not have been a better provider to Sierra or me and still takes care of a lot of my medical issues. I couldn’t have done any of this without him because he took care of her in the early days of her life and my only function in the beginning was to breastfeed.

Over 4 months later we were still changing my dressing and my incision was still not healing. However, I was able to maintain my ability to breastfeed Sierra. In hindsight, it sounds like we didn’t ask enough questions, but we had complete confidence in our current OB. He has been an OB doctor for over 35 years and I am the only case he has EVER seen where the patient did not heal. I also need to note that I was in the United States for a month during this time and I also went to a doctor there and he told us the same things. I just needed more time because a wound takes time to heal. After the OB doctor consulted with many other doctors in his field and in surgery, I was being referred out of the OB area to a surgeon.

I had exploratory surgery on my abdomen on June 4. My CT scan did not show anything that was alarming so he had to get in there and see what the problem was. My surgeon removed a rind of tissue that was not allowing me to heal. Prior to my surgery I couldn’t get an answer on the type of anesthetic that was going to be used so that I could continue to breastfeed. Because of this I had to stop breastfeeding Sierra for 24 hours and this broke my heart. I hadn’t stored any milk for her because she refused to take a bottle. She just couldn’t figure it out and my husband tried on numerous occasions with milk that I had pumped. This is when our breastfeeding journey begins to get very difficult for me, Sierra, and my husband. My husband had to take care of our baby who had been nursing on her mom for the past 4 months and try a bottle. At that point we had tried almost every nipple known to man to see if she would take one and my husband had to feed her with a syringe the first few days. Then we began getting nipples that are used for newborns in the hospital because she could figure those out. Throughout my 22 day hospital stay there were many instances when I had to pump out milk that Sierra should not have because of the medication that I was given. She began to take the formula from my husband, Kevin, and it broke my heart, but I was happy she adjusted so quickly. My milk supply was no longer what it used to be, but my baby stayed loyal. She still latched on right away every morning when she can to my room. This was a very difficult time for me because this was a bond with my daughter that I wasn’t ready to give up yet, but I didn’t know what else to do. It still brings tears to my eyes to even think about my time in the hospital. After 22 days in the hospital I no longer had a sufficient milk supply for Sierra and we even started her on vegetables a little over a month earlier than I wanted. Sierra still wasn’t a huge fan of formula and I thought at least she is getting nourishment from me, formula, and vegetables.

Back Home
By the time we were released from the hospital we had finally found a nipple that she could figure out. By figuring out I mean she could still use her breastfeeding latch and the formula would still come out. I continued to breastfeed Sierra and I wanted my milk supply back and was even given information from Amy on how to make this happen, but after I thought about it, I couldn’t let myself stress about the formula anymore. Our days were still very stressful because I had/have doctor appointments that are an hour drive one way from where we live two to three times a week. Plus, I am still attached to a wound VAC that I have to carry around because it is attached via cords to my open wound. I needed to make peace with myself that she was still getting some breastmilk and I needed to come to terms with the fact that she may wean herself off breastfeeding before I wanted because of our circumstances. I was also being faced with the good possibility that I may have to undergo another surgery and I couldn’t put Sierra or my husband through that painful transition again from breastfeeding to formula because I wasn’t ready. As of today, August 4th, I am still recovering and Sierra is a little over 6 months old. I still have an open wound and a slight possibility of another surgery, but Sierra is back to breastfeeding exclusively and formula is not a part of her nutrition as of yesterday, but she still enjoys her veggies daily. When I began to realize the little amount of formula she was actually taking I began to get really excited. The one thing I did do to help increase my milk supply was to keep her at my breast for longer to help with stimulation if she was nursing/sleeping on me.

If my story can influence anyone to push pass the physical pain that you may feel in the first few weeks or adversity you might be facing, I am happy to share.