Saturday, January 29, 2011

I fear fear.

I like to think of myself as a pretty brave individual. I am not scared to try new things and have about as open of a mind as one can get; fear of the new or unknown is not something I am familiar with. But I do fear the chance that I will be fearful in the future. That sounds very grammatically incorrect. Moving on.

I have been given the green light to proceed with a natural child birth. There was some concern on my part that my cardiac history would warrant a cesarean section. Those were laid to rest after several cardiologists, including the one I saw here in Japan, said they saw no reason I should not be able to labor naturally. Over the two years since having Noah I have become more and more passionate about the process of laboring. Medical intervention vs. letting nature take its course. 

Epidurals are not an option for natural child birth here in Japan. Of course they exist, but are reserved for cesareans. I recently read an article stating that they are starting to be offered in some hospitals in Tokyo, but they are certainly not being offered here in northern Japan. This made my passion for the process of laboring all very real. I'm not just watching "The business of being born", agreeing with the premiss but keeping in the back of my mind that if things get scary I have an epidural I can call on. I have no option of an epidural waiting in the wings. 

I have started reading literature based on natural childbirth. Namely, the Bradley Method and HypnoBirthing. I have fallen in love with the latter. It makes complete and total sense, and I highly recommend any pregnant woman or partner to someone who is expecting to Go. Read. That. BOOK!

One of the main arguments that they present is that child birth is not as painful a process that we, as a society, have been gleaned to think. The fear of the possibility of pain actually does create pain, causing the blood vessels in the uterus to dilate and blocking the natural anesthetics that your body creates (which are 200 times more powerful than morphine). HypnoBirthing offers techniques to quiet  these fears through self-hypnosis. It also helps you to become familiar with the process of child birth; what your body is beautifully designed to do, without major pain, and what the baby does to help become part of this world. 

I fear that I am going to fear the pain. But, ironically, last August I think I was prepared for my upcoming labor in an unknowing way.

This is me, the day after my open heart surgery. My Dad snapped this picture once I arrived to my main recovery room, after spending the night in the ICU. At this point I still needed oxygen and was on a pain pump. In order to leave the ICU I had to pass several requisites. I came out of surgery with the breathing tube still down my throat. I also had two chest tubes that were still in me, just below my sternum, to drain any fluid that might accumulate. To get out of ICU you have to be breathing on your own and your chest tubes should not be draining too much fluid. 

Some people have commented on how brave I was to go through something as big as that at such a young age. Bravery really had nothing to do with it. I made the decision that I had to get better. I was bound and determined, through every step, to just simply get better. That was the only goal I had in mind. Fear was just never something I considered. Of course, while lying on the operating room table, before the cocktail of drugs had been administered, tears were welling up in my eyes and I was shaking with fear. I took a deep breath, pictured Noah in my head, and knew that I would be just fine. I had to be. Getting back to Noah was my goal.

So throughout my recovery I kept my goal in mind; getting better for my son. When you wake up in the ICU with the breathing tube still in place, you want it OUT. My nurse asked if I needed anything and I made a motion indicating that I was ready for that tube to be history. He laughed and said, 'Once you prove you are breathing on your own, we will take it out'. I closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing. The next thing I know I am being woken up by an alarm. The nurse leans over my bed and says 'See? You aren't doing it yet! Keep trying!'. It was then that I realized how much effort it was going to take. I am not sure how long I laid there, determined to breath on my own while focusing on every single breath, but soon enough the tube was history. The nurse said it was actually not a very long time, considering I was on bypass, and that my young age was going to help me through my recovery.

From that moment on I just looked at every step of recovery as an individual step that needed my total focus to get to my goal. I was out of the hospital in four days. 

One day in the hospital, my Mom asked me which was worse, child birth or open heart surgery. I responded without skipping a beat, SURGERY! We discovered, shortly after the above picture was taken, that I am allergic to any medication that contains codeine (throwing up after your chest has been cut open is a very unpleasant feeling). For the rest of my recovery I was simply taking Ibuprofen for the pain. I really do think I unknowingly practiced some self-hypnosis to get through the first couple of days. 

Comparing child birth to surgery isn't fair, really. After all, I am just pregnant, not sick! But the fear can be pretty similar. The fear of pain, the fear of not being strong enough... the connection makes sense to me. I am hoping that having gone through what I have will give me the strength and courage to know that I can do it.  

Last August I was having open heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. This August I will be having a baby in Japan. Nothing short of a miracle. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Light your torch, sharpen your pitchforks!

I am a Baby Wise mom.

When Noah was a few months old I remember lamenting to another dear mommy friend the trouble I had with getting Noah to nap in his crib during the day. Evenings were great... but he was not napping well at all. This brilliant mother introduced me to the ways of Dr. Garry Ezzo and his hordes or adoring Baby Wise fans. 

While I never purchased the book when Noah was still an infant, I did practice a lot of the advice based on what my friend had told me and what I had read online. I was not a full blown BW mama, but was pretty darn close. 

In case you can't tell from this title, Baby Wise is a very controversial technique to follow. Some parents find it cruel. The main premiss is that it is a parent lead schedule, not a baby lead schedule. Meaning you feed based on a schedule that you set, not when the baby demands it. This is all to establish a routine of Eat. Play. Sleep. which is supposed to be the backbone of raising a happy, healthy baby.

Some people feel that it is cruel to withhold feedings from an infant who is screaming for more. I did not start BW until Noah was at least 6 months old, so I can not speak of the infant feeding schedule, but as far as the schedule for a 6 month old goes, I knew he was getting adequate nutrition and his needs were being met. This helped with so many breastfeeding issues, I can not even being to list or describe... it was just a miracle what a little routine did for our lives!  

Don't even get me started on the cry it out method. Yes, you let your child cry it out at times, it is called sleep training. You want your child to sleep at the appropriate times and be awake at the appropriate times. Often, when old enough, a child will cry some because they are not used to a sudden change in habits. Again, I did a modified version of this that seemed to work for Noah. Now, I have a 2 year old who happily goes to bed awake, needing only his night time routine and a kiss goodnight from me. He is secure in himself and his ability to drift off to sleep on his own. 

There is also something that comes to play here; mothers intuition. Of course if I just KNOW my child has been left wanting, I certainly won't stick to the advice from pages on a book, I will follow my own instincts! And I know his cries... if he needed me, I was there in a second. If he was simply letting me know he was unhappy I put him down, well that is OK, he is entitled to his opinion;-)

I just got a copy of the Baby Wise book in the mail today. I can not wait to dive right on in and become the empowered mother that knows how to anticipate her child's needs, therefore resulting in one happy, well rested and well feed baby! But I have to say, I will just be using this as a guide; no Doctor or Professor can write a book that better understands my child's needs more than me. I think that is what a lot of parents forget today... you have the biological coding for knowing what your child needs! You just have to know how to listen to it. And hopefully, with the guidance from this great book, I will be even more prepared for Baby Rodenhizer #2.

Anyone else Baby Wise? 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Notes on parenting a 2 year old...

Noah is 2 years old.
He is smart. I mean really smart. All parents say that, I know, but I will also list his shortcomings as to not seem unrealistic. Noah is cleaver and curious and does not do anything until he is certain he can do it by himself. Independent. Strong. Stubborn. This is why he is so smart. I can see his wheels turning; constantly thinking (plotting). 

He has had one particular puzzle for months. He will not sit still to do something like a puzzle with me because he likes doing things on his own. He enjoys dumping the pieces out, maybe he will sort them into a different container, but then walks away and finds something else to do. This drives me nuts. All I want is to sit down and do a puzzle with my kid. I want him to exercise patience and control so he can LEARN. After a particularly long weekend I was almost to my wits end when he stubbornly walked away from the puzzle, whining and crying. I said 'I know you can do it, just show mom how you can put this fire truck back where it belongs.' He takes it from me, walks over to his turtle desk, places it down and then comes to me, smiling, tugging on my shirt to move away from the puzzle. I say (did I mention I was at my wits end?) 'You know what I mean, Noah, so I am going to sit here until you put these pieces back where they belong.' 

He starts whining and crying.

I tell him (and not in a sweet mom voice, but in a I'm-fighting-with-my-toddler voice) 'I know you know how to do it, I am not moving until you do.' He stops whining and crying as quickly as he started and proceeds to put every piece back where they belong. Without a word. For the first time ever.  

Of course I am praising him, hooting and hollering like a crazy person. Mean while my stoic face son (hello, Jeff's genes) just tugs on my shirt one last time, insisting that I move away from that damn puzzle.

The kid has been playing me!

And that is why he is so smart.

So when people ask me how much he is talking, what new words has he said, and things about his verbal development... I don't worry. Because Noah does not speak as much as some 2 year olds.... but I am not worried.

I was really struggling with this over the past couple weeks. Reading things online about developmental milestones and just nit picking my kid to death about how many words leave his mouth on a daily basis. I started to question my parenting. Am I not teaching him in the way he needs? Am I not meeting his needs? I got so wound up with the fine print I forgot the big picture. And that is this...

Ya'll, Noah is brilliant. 

And I am a great mother. 

And one day Noah will very eloquently speak to both those facts, but for now my stubborn child will just hose us all into thinking one thing, just to bamboozle us with a puzzle in the blink of an eye.