Unassisted Pregnancy/Birth; Past 40 weeks with Prodromal Labor

(I wrote this after having yet another “false” alarm of the baby coming. I was feeling really down and discouraged. I really needed to remind myself of what I am fighting for, what I believe, and what I want. Prodromal labor and drive a pregnant woman nuts!)

The only thing I have to think about is you; baby Markos. The one swimming in my belly, pushing on my cervix, causing me to stop and breathe.

I had to hear that. I have your three older sisters to care for. It is so difficult to let go and allow my mom and aunt to watch them, take over for me. It is so difficult to not feel pressure to perform, to get you here earthside.

I have too much in my mind like a pressure cooker, ready to explode. I need to just b r e a t h e.

I feel you, right beneath my taunt belly. Your legs and feet pushing against my side, your back rising against the other. Your right here, but yet your far from me; someplace inside that I cannot reach into and hold you.

I wanted this unassisted birth because I believe it is best for you, and for me. I wanted it because I believe my body can do this. I have wisdom inside of me, from generations of women who have given birth down the line to this moment; you and me.

I have to remind myself of these things. When labor gets difficult, it is easier to hand over control to someone and someplace else; like the obstetricians and hospitals. It is easier to say “okay, you take over this situation. You tell me what to do. You tell me what is happening to my body and baby.” But, this comes at a great expense of losing something sacred. It also endangers us both physically and emotionally.

I have a vision of your father and I together, your head stretching and opening me, I reach down and feel your hair (I know you will have a lot of it), and then I push more and your body slides out into your father’s hands.

And then I will know—I did it.

So come baby, I am ready for you when you are.

There will be no bright lights to assault your senses, no cold gloved hands taking you from me, no needles stuck into your feet, no uncomfortable clothing and strangers talking.

There will be you, there will be me, there will be your father and then your sisters who are eagerly waiting for your arrival.

And peace, love, family.

 

 

Our first month homeschooling kindergarten!

Soooo…our first homeschool year has begun this month. My oldest child is 5 years old, so she is officially a kindergartner. I also have my nearly 4-year-old daughter doing preschool and a 2-year-old. All of this while 9 months pregnant! I am less than 2 weeks from my “due date” and I have been experiencing a lot of prodromal labor (i.e very slow going early labor). Yet, here we are starting our “official” schooling journey.

This has been a learning experience for me too. I have not been as organized as I imagined I would be. We are basically unschooling, along with a general schedule and a list of the subjects we will cover each week. That said, I am really pleasantly surprised by how much my children have been learning in this more casual style of school. The girls are all very young yet, so I consider imaginative play and a lot of outdoor exploration to be just as important as workbooks and more traditional schoolwork.

Both my 5 year old and my preschooler have been doing math randomly, every day, without any prompting on my part. They will frequently take objects from the kitchen table, or toys from their bins, and then proudly explain to me how many they have left when some are taken away and how many more they have when some are added. I went over more traditional math lessons with them a few times, covering basic subtraction and addition, but now they are taking those lessons and using them during the day by themselves!

Another example is learning shapes. This is more of a review for my kindergartner, but I also added 3D shapes for her such as a cylinder and cube. We did some fun coloring workbook pages with shapes, read a book about shapes, and then we did some slightly complex puzzles with shapes. They had to find shapes that would fit into a pattern on a card they were given, for example they may have a butterfly shape and then need to find which shapes are needed to complete the picture. After we did this, they both come up to me constantly excited to show me a shape they found (my kindergartner told me the farmhouse had a cylinder, my preschooler told me the refrigerator was a rectangle, etc).

They are truly taking in whatever lessons we have and applying it during everyday life.
We take weekly trips to the library and bring back a haul of books. Reading is a big part of what we do, and that has always been the case. I started reading to my oldest when was 6 months old! I showed her baby picture books, and she has always loved reading. My middle child is extremely energy, so it took longer for her to be able to sit through books. I am happy to say that she is usually very good about sitting for reading now, especially when she can pick books out at the library herself that interest her.

We are also going over Spanish, which has been the hardest for me to teach. My husband is bilingual; his parents are from Colombia. He didn’t speak Spanish to them enough, and he was gone for some long periods due to illness. I am sad that they aren’t learning as native speakers, but they are all still so young that it is very possible for them to become fluent if we work on it now. I am teaching it to them through books, and making their own books with words and pictures. We are also using song and memory cards. When this baby is born my husband has promised to speak exclusively in Spanish to the baby, I think this will help our other children as well because they will hear the words on a daily basis in regular language. My mother in law will be coming to stay with us shortly after the baby is born, so she can also help with Spanish while she is here.

Our local homeschooling group (a loosely joined together county wide group) as been wonderful. Some of the mothers really do a lot to put together great activities for the children, such as a nature walk and nature craft that we just love! Even better, the state park this occurs at is only 10 minutes away! We just started this back up because the classes ended over the summer, due to the oppressive heat. They girls made beautiful nature looms, and my younger two children had a blast playing with moss. They also get the chance to run and play outside with other children, getting exercise and making friends.

In addition to this, all three girls are in dance class (yes even my 2 year old!). They love dance! We also took a trip to the museum of natural history last month, and we plan on taking big field trips at least every 3 months. This keeps things new and creative, while learning in new environments. I already have tickets for my oldest two children and I to attend our first children’s targeted ballet (Beauty and the Beast). The library often has activities they can do for free, and we have a YMCA membership which will be super important during the cold months when outside physical activity is more limited (although we WILL be in the snow).

So, this is just the beginning of our homeschooling adventure. It is not easy to be home all week with all the children, but I could never see myself sending them away for school 5 days a week for the majority of the day. It would be so different. We are forming strong bonds as a family, and I want the ability to keep our lives flexible and adapt to each of their needs. There is so much positive in this, it is worth the hard work! (Even 9 months pregnant)

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Peace and blessings to you all.

37 weeks Unassisted Pregnancy

Well, here I am at (almost) 37 weeks pregnant. This is my second unassisted pregnancy but I transferred to the hospital with my first unassisted birth attempt (due to my own unfounded fears, we were fine!). A UP is when a woman receives no professional care during her pregnancy, with a OB or a midwife. This doesn’t mean that the pregnant woman does not take very good and diligent care of herself, often times we who make this choice pay far more attention to the details of our pregnancies and health than do women seeing traditional birth professionals.

I stopped seeing my OB practice around 18 weeks. I knew that I had zero interest in taking the tests they wanted me to take. I felt stressed and pressured after each appointment. Then, I realized that I was doing this to myself for no reason. Yes, I am pregnant but pregnancy is not an illness! I am healthy. I do not see a doctor on a regular basis when I am not ill, so why would I do that while pregnant? I went over all the painful memories of my first baby’s birth due to the cruel manner of my old OB. I thought back to my midwife hospital birth with my second baby and understood that although it was significantly better, I was still not given full control over my own body and had to fight to keep my baby with me after she was born. I thought about how I had never, ever been helped in any way, shape or form by any medical professional during any of my births or pregnancies! I realized how absurd it was for me to continue doing something for the fourth time that stressed me out and had never proven beneficial to my health or my baby’s health! I left and never made another appointment.

This is has been a time for to regain my power and voice. Pregnant women in American are treated like children who cannot make their own choices. We are told what we are “allowed” to do, and we are bullied and shamed into major medical decisions like c sections when we disagree or push back. They want us drugged up, numb, laying down and quiet. They want us to be “good” and obey their orders. They chastise us for not being happy our baby is healthy after we endure all manner of physical and emotional abuse in labor and birth. I, for one, have had it.

This pregnancy has been a time for learning how to trust myself and honor my body. I have paid attention to what my body needs in regards to food, rest, hydration, sex. I have chosen to believe that my body knows how to grow this baby and birth this baby. I have taken steps to connect to my body in a way that I never have before. As a survivor of sexual abuse and rape, it is incredibly freeing to connect to and honor my body as I grow this precious baby.

I have learned that many times you simply cannot please other people with your choices. I will be maligned and spoken badly of due to my choice to UP/UC (unassisted childbirth), but I will let it roll off my back. I have only told my husband and my mother, but I do not allow my mother to speak negatively about it to me. She can have her feelings about it, but I do not have to listen to it. After the baby is born and has been seen healthy for months, I might make my choice to UC public. I have really enjoyed connecting with other women over the internet who are making this same journey as I am.

Pregnancy is a spiritual time. I am connected to my child in a way that is unique; because pregnancy is unlike any other human experience. It is a creative time and a sensitive time. I am emotional, but not in that negative stereotypical way. Women are mocked for our emotions during this time, but it is good for the heart to open and grow and be shaped by deep empathy.

I think this baby will be born soon. I am ready to welcome him, and I am ready to wait for him in peace; either way. I am at peace.

 

 

Trauma and Memory Recall

Memory is a strange thing for the traumatized mind. Some memories are nothing more than apparitions of smell, emotion, and touch; try as I might to put flesh on these ghosts, they remain as formless as mist rising in the morning. Other memories are clear on the big picture yet lack details. I remember his size, the tenor of his voice, the time of year; but his face is an empty and blurred image, as if I can only recall the outline of what happened and who he was. And still others, more strangely, are incredibly vivid and detailed. I can recall the color of my shirt and the exact size of his member on me. I remember the lunch I ate, and the cigarettes I smoked. I remember his face; he isn’t a blurry image I struggle to recall. I can still see the lines on his forehead and the way his lips drew together in rage against me.

Sometimes I have to close my eyes and think “ok…I was very cold and wearing a jacket so it must have been Fall or Winter….yes, it was because the soup kitchen gave us Christmas dinner…” and that is how I put some things together. It is like tracing lines, connecting dots, until I can place a certain event in the timeline of my life. “Was I 18 or 20 when this happened? Well… didn’t meet my husband yet so I wasn’t 20…” and on it goes.

Why are some memories so detailed, and others so far away? They were all traumatic. I was high during some, and sober during others; but it makes no difference in my ability to remember. Why, oh mind, do you insist that I remember the drug dealing pimp from Harlem who raped me but will not reveal the face of a similar man from East Orange? Why, oh mind, do you allow me excruciating memory of shame and secrecy during childhood but will not permit me his name? What is this game of ours we are playing?

There has got to be some reason, no? I just cannot figure it out. This memory puzzle, this strange collection of blurry and clear snapshots in time.

That man from Harlem, I don’t want to remember him. I want to forget. Yet, my mind insists on not forgetting him. But then, I wonder why on earth I am trying to coax details from the misty memories of my mind. Surely they must be worse? But are they? I don’t know.

I am my own puzzle, and my brain has stored the pieces in various places in different ways.

I suppose the most important thing is to resolve the feelings. That is what I focus on now.

If I cannot recall what I want to at will, then I will focus on healing the wounds they left behind. I will work with what I have available to me, and trust in my mind’s way of storing these events long left behind.

As long as one day, I am whole again. Free again. Me again.

The Wide Open Heart of a Mother

I think it may be the prenatal hormones that are kicking in. I am getting close to my due date (about 6-8 weeks away) and the baby is moving a lot, our connection has grown a lot already as I prepare myself physically and mentally for his arrival. It could be that, I don’t know. All I know is that I have found myself really contemplating and feeling the vastness of my love for my children.

My oldest is 5 and she will start kindergarten homeschooling within weeks. I am in awe of this little thinking person she has become. I miss her babyhood, yet I adore the child she is and look forward to the years ahead that we have of learning together. She is strongly empathetic and caring, her spirit is one that naturally wants to help others. My hips have been in so much pain lately from SPD (a condition of loose ligaments during pregnancy), and she has taken to rubbing my hips gently to sooth it. I never showed her how to do that, nor did I ask her to do it. She just knew. She just sensed what I needed and desired to help ease my pain. She is also strong, which is good because she is so sensitive. She hurts easily; but I see inside of her the strength of my mother and my grandmother and great-grandmother. Women whose blood runs in her veins; women who are and were strong. She is beautiful in so many ways, my little girl. My mother heart feels physically full to think of her.

And then there is my second, 3.5 year old Liora. She is fiery. She is powerful, all sinewy strength and muscle. She takes a lot of time, attention, and sometimes leaves me questioning my ability as a mother. Yet, she is tiny physically (all that solid muscle in a short petite frame). She is in some ways even softer and more easily damaged than her big sister is. She needs my love in a way that is fierce and terrifying for her. She will rage and tantrum if she is scared of losing it. Recently, she hurt her sister (again) and I was upset. She was all fury; fists, teeth, knees and jabs. But then, she broke down. She wept, and looked up at me with those amazing brown eyes filed with tears and said “mommy, you don’t love me anymore?” My heart broke. Shattered. I pulled her into me and assured with a thousand words and kisses that my love was still there, and would always be there. I spent time this week just holding her. She requires physical touch, and verbal affirmation. She will be a force to be reckoned with in this world, my little Li. A wonderful, loving, fiery force.

My current “baby”, my third daughter Zipporah. She is 2 years old and ready to do everything her big sisters do. They are her world, especially Liora. I labored for a day with Z, and fought hard for her after she was born and the hospital tried to keep her from me. She came home with me with a head full of dark hair and the fullest cheeks. I was a confident mother with her. I knew that I was her mother, and therefore all she needed as a babe. I nursed her, slept with her, and carried her everywhere. Yet, she was always my most independent baby. She rarely ever cried. She enjoyed the chaos around her formed by her big sisters, and as soon as possible she joined in. We called her “free-range baby” because she would just crawl around, then toddle around after her sisters. Momma is still important, but if big sisters are there than she feels safe and ready for adventure. When she says to me “mom mom” my heart is a puddle and she gets whatever she wants. She has an incredible vocabulary for a 2 year old, and she is still my easy going one although the toddler in her does protest when she wants. She adores babies. All babies. Any baby. Just give her a baby and she is in love. Also, food. She loves to eat. She is tall (unlike Liora), and sturdy. Her face reveals her family from Colombia, a beautiful mixture of daddy and me. I am relishing this stage of her life. I love the 2 year old age, despite the tantrums, because of the wonder they have and how every single thing she does is just cute.

And now, my baby boy. My first and only unborn son. I have yet to hold him in my arms but I have carried him and nurtured him for the last several months. Our bodies are connected, almost one. He moves inside of me, and I have learned when he is active and when he sleeps. He reacts to what I eat, and how I am feeling. He is my “healing baby”. He came to us at the close of a horrible, horrible year. He gave me hope. He gave me a reason to change (more of a reason) from the path I was going down. I cannot wait to see what his birth teaches me, and to hold him in my arms and at my breast.

Yes, my mother heart is full. It is full, yet it expands with every child. My mothers heart is wide and open.

 

 

 

Trigger, Trigger. (PTSD)

Where does this despair hide itself from the rest of me when life is going smoothly? Does it seep into the corners of my mouth when I smile? Does it retreat into the shadows of my insides? How can it escape notice from the very person it inhabits? Until—a nightmare during sleep opens me up and the despair that was hidden comes squarely before my face.

And it laughs at me. Taunts me. Turns my gut into twisted pieces.

Causes me to doubt everything that I am, believe, and wish to be.

I carry this endlessly deep space of despair around, it suffocates my heart and fills my belly. I force my body to move the way it is supposed to. I make myself walk around like a human being, like the person I was before the latest trigger. I can’t cry. I can’t think. I feel as if I am being stalked by this shadow enemy.

Just. Leave. Me. Alone!

I don’t want you here anymore. I don’t want to face whatever horrors of my past your trying to foist upon me. I have a present, and a future that I love living; stop dragging me down with those claws. Those claws of despair that pierce me, cut into me, slash my heart in two.

I question everything. And I know this is all a show. I know how it ends if I follow you down this rabbit hole. I have never been able to survive it. I have never been able to be strong. I always fall apart into a thousand pieces and then after you leave, put myself back together (yet never quite as together as before).

Is there a way to swim through this ocean without choking on the pain? I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I feel emptied out. Terrified, again.

The sick thing is, as soon as this storm passes…all I see are clear blue skies. And then I wonder, what was I scared of? Why was I so lost in this emotional war? It all seems so..obvious and simple.

But then these triggers come and cut me open again, exposing that hidden despair. The same old cycle. I just have to hold on and let it tear through me. I have to be inert and unmoving. I have to allow it to run its course without choosing any actions, without thinking any thoughts. Then, I survive it without destroying myself. Then, I stand under the clear blue skies and realize the insanity of the storm.

But, is this the only way? Is there a way to stop these emotional tempests and finally have lasting peace and calm? I don’t know. I only know how to survive. But survival gets exhausting sometimes. I want to have that peace. Please, let me have that lasting peace.

And the storm is rolling over me….

30 Reasons Why I am Choosing an Unassisted Birth for my 4th baby….

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  1. I am stronger than you think I am
  2. I refuse to allow myself to be abused during labor again
  3. I am healthy
  4. My baby is healthy
  5. Pregnancy is NOT a disease or illness
  6. Birth is a normal physiological process, not a medical emergency
  7. I am prepared for the worst, but will not expect the worst with no reason to
  8. I deserve to be comfortable
  9. I deserve privacy
  10. I deserve respect
  11. My baby deserves to be born into a calm environment
  12. My baby deserves to not be taken from mommy
  13. The pain is more manageable at home
  14. Intimacy between myself and my husband matters during birth
  15. I will not endure harassment, coercion, and disrespect in labor again
  16. I am stronger than I think I am
  17. I want my husband’s hands to be the first to touch our son
  18. I want to eat, walk, drink, and rest as I feel lead
  19. I believe my health and safety is at risk the moment I walk into an ER with a healthy body and normal pregnancy
  20. I am sick and tired of cervical checks
  21. I cannot stand those (not evidence-based) fetal monitor bands across my belly
  22. I do not want anyone telling me what to do with my body
  23. It will be powerful, difficult, life-changing and beautiful
  24. I know what is best for my baby, and would always put his health before mine
  25. I am sick and tired of defending myself against unwanted medical procedures
  26. Birth is not scary!
  27. 1 out of 3 women get major surgery, that is too high of a risk for me
  28. Most routine practices in American hospitals are NOT evidence-based medicine
  29. America’s maternal death rates are *rising*
  30. Peace instead of PTSD