Portrait Series, 2016 | March

San Clemente Family Photographer-4011 San Clemente Family Photographer-4035A portrait of my family once a month in 2016

Willy: expressed a desire to have his hair grow faster and asked if men can take prenatal vitamins.

Hooper: Reached full blown kid status after naturally ripping holes in two pairs of his jeans within the same week.

Van: Has been so strong willed as of late he has be wondering if the Leo within has surfaced or if the middle child phenomenon really is a thing.

Sonny: Consistently thinks my nipple is on my arm no matter how many times I direct his rooting mouth back to the center of my body.

Me: Combating some serious feelings of baby fever already… Wondering if I’ll ever be content calling it quits on this baby making gig.

Jimmie: Lost some degree of interest in Sonny just as soon as his smelly umbilical stump fell off.

A Family Session, with The Capeners

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Please excuse me while I use this time to get caught up on sharing a heap of sessions… photos from Cuba coming your way as well…

At the end of this session I said “the images may not be perfect, but they’ll definitely be honest”. I felt like the kind of real estate agent that refers to a home that’s much too small and needs some work as having “character”. And yet, when I went through and edited what I captured, I feel nothing of the chaos that comes with two young boys; it’s a chaos I know well. And in the end, I’m quite happy with how these turned out. A pleasant surprise when given the fact none of my regular “tricks” (or who am I kidding, errr, manipulation) seemed to work. In any event, the take home message is that they’re not perfect, I mean check out that last picture of all of them with little Theo basically pulling his eye out. But I’ll be damned if they’re not honest. And that’s what I strive for anyway.

Elise, Drew, Fin, & Theo, captured in their home in Dana Point, California.

Interested in booking a session? You can check out my website by clicking here and email me at ashleyjennett @ gmail.com.

 

A Birth Story

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Sonny, the wait was nearly longer than your mama could bear but, as I suppose they say – and as I peek over my shoulder at you so perfectly asleep and content in your bouncer- you were worth it.

Everyone has a story, my dear Sonny, this is yours.

———-

As your induction date grew nearer, I became more obsessed with getting you out before eviction time. I started to get hung up on stupid shit – like whether you’d be an Aires or a Pisces – and even considered changing my induction date because, I’m telling you, I was going crazy. If only hindsight weren’t 20/20. If I could have the peace of mind that I do today, knowing what I know now, I would have waited with more grace, more patience; I would have waited a lifetime. But, alas, the end of my pregnancy with you felt like a lifetime with each day sucking whatever energy I had and whisking it away like a broom sweeping dust off a porch. I read once that cats runaway prior to giving birth; they find somewhere dark and birth their kittens in the loneliness and company of dark shadows. I can relate. I wanted to dig a hole and not come out until I had you in my arms.

I woke up that morning looking forward to my appointment, eager for the doc to give me some crystal ball answer of when I would go into labor; which, truthfully, I knew was a lousy thing to rely on given the fact at the previous appointment he said I’d have you in my arms within the next 5 days. That appointment was over a week prior. I suppose it’s that very lack of control, the uncertainty, that makes pregnancy so troubling at times; so much to worry about and get hung up on.

He did a quick ultrasound and confirmed that my fluid levels were great, your heart beat perfect. He didn’t comment on your size, per his usual less-is-more conversational skills and at-that-point I was glad; I knew deep down you’d be big and going into labor without that seed of fear planted in my head helped to some degree. He stripped my membranes, for at least the third – maybe fourth – time and reminded me, once again, that he’s never put a women into labor by stripping her membranes. I was 4 cm and 80% effaced and though that came as a pleasant surprise, google was quick to remind me that others stayed at these measurements for weeks, some even having to be induced for ‘failure to progress’ beyond those measurements. No such reassurance with this pregnancy gig, I’m tellin’ ya. He hooked us up to the fetal monitor, checked your heart rate against some contractions during a non-stress-test, told me you look “too perfect”, asked that I not go into labor until after midnight – after his sushi date with his wife – and I left his office.

I met up with a friend of a friend later in the afternoon, who agreed to do some acupressure. By this point I had sworn off all natural induction tricks but given the fact she was referred by a friend who referred to her as “the big guns” and offered to help out of the kindness of her heart, it was hard to say no. I met her at her house and she worked on some areas on my feet, shoulders, neck, and back while her son played with legos and their new puppy pissed on the carpet.

I stopped on the way home to get a pedicure, which is something I’ve never gotten in the two years of living here. But, given the fact I’m unable to bend due to my fused spine and now even less able to bend because of, well, your ridiculous size, I figured someone who does not love me ought to trim my nails and scrape the dead skin off my feet. There was a women sitting with her feet in the tub when I got there. She glanced over as I was picking out a color and said, “you look like you deserve a pedicure, when are you due?”. I gave her the I-know-right look and told her my due date had come and gone sometime ago. I climbed up to the massage chair, flipped through some trashy magazines that I only seem to ever pick up while waiting in line at the grocery store or at a doctor’s appointment, and left the nail salon with cherry red toe nails feeling like now would be a good time to go into labor. As would yesterday, but – ya know – ships sail.

The rest of that day was spent like the days that preceded it — waiting. I waited all the way through dinner and got in bed that night dreading the passing of another day and feeling much like I did the evenings preceding it — defeated. I got up to the bathroom, noticed some blood tinged mucous, googled “bloody show”, compared pictures others had posted, told Willy it could mean we’d be on our way to the hospital soon OR it could mean several more days of waiting (thanks, again, google for all your wonderfully definitive information), and got in bed with just the slightest glimmer of hope to combat the usual feeling of defeat.

As if you had more respect for our OB than I, just a few minutes after midnight – per his request – I felt the first contraction that caught my attention and briefly made me exhale just a tad longer than usual. Not being the first time I was awoken by a contraction that seemed to be gaining in magnitude, I didn’t get too excited. I did consider timing it to see when the next one would come and sure enough, five minutes later, I had another. I stopped timing them, however, when ten more minutes went by and nothing much happened. Defeat, pouring back in.

Then, around 12:20am (keep track of the time here because it’s an important part of your story), I heard a “pop”. I turned to your Papa and said, “did you hear that?”. He wrote me off entirely, assumed I was dreaming and responded to me the same way you’d respond to a drunk person who you know isn’t in their right mind to be having a serious conversation. He blamed it on my back, “It was probably just your back cracking”. Only it felt very internal. To be honest, I thought you had broke your neck. I spent the next couple of minutes waiting for you to move, to be sure you were okay, and when you responded with some gentle kicks, I got up to go to the bathroom hoping to see some sign of impending labor. Alas, nothing. Defeat, pouring back in.

I climbed back in bed and succumbed to the fact it was going to be another sleepless night, waiting and wondering and anticipating. And then my underwear started to feel wet. My first inclination was to wait, to be sure. My second inclination was to get out of bed and avoid having to deal with a mattress soaked with amniotic fluid. I made my way to the bathroom, again, this time accompanied by a clear puddle of water beneath my feet. I called my doula, told her in a calm voice that my water broke and asked her what I’m supposed to do now. Given the time and lack of sleep, she suggested waiting just a bit and trying to get some more rest. I knew in my heart of hearts I would not be able to take her advice.

I made my way back to the bed and had a contraction that made me grab hold of the bedding for support. Your Papa called the OB. I went over to my desk and consulted the list I had made (I love lists) of tasks to complete in early labor; things like shower, put toiletry bag in backpack, turn off computer, etc, etc. I started moaning in such a way that your Papa said, “How ’bout you stop doing that stuff and we start to head over to the hospital”. I agreed because it was obvious shit was gonna go down. We got in the car about 12:30am.

My contractions seemed to be escalating quickly. It literally went from my water breaking to full-on labor land mode. I tried to watch the clock to time them but each time one came I was swept away in such a way that no thoughts registered, common logic had all but left. I was in survival mode and the drive to the hospital felt like the longest drive of my life. The commute to the hospital is about 20 minutes and your Papa must had been driving 95 mph in addition to running several red lights. I heard your Papa on the phone with the OB, “I’m no OB but I think things are moving pretty quickly…”.

When we got to the hospital your Papa wheeled me into the waiting room of the ER. For the brief second I could open my eyes I could see about 10 to 15 people sitting in chairs, waiting to be seen. I gave them quite the show and I’m sure any one of them would have offered to give up their place in line for the screams of the woman in dire need that just bursted through their doors. Luckily the OB, God bless him, showed up a few minutes later and he was actually the one to wheel me up to the delivery unit. Your Papa went to park the truck.

On the way to the elevator, the OB – the one I’ve called some not nice names and debated leaving several times – rubbed my shoulders and whispered in my ear, “you’re doing awesome”. He probably knew he’d be home soon enough. I’m such a cynical bitch (should I apologize to you for that now or later in life?). Before we even made it out of the elevator, I felt the urge to push. I didn’t fight it. Past experience told me that the nothing was coming out of me with any sort of ease, so with each contraction, I bore down.

There was a room full of people waiting for me and next thing I knew they were asking me to get out of the wheelchair and into the bed. I remember the transfer being so difficult. Your Papa came in from the parking lot. I was still in my dress when I got into bed. I heard one nurse mention something about putting an IV in me, the other nurse declaring that there wouldn’t be time. They made an attempt at putting the monitor around my belly, asked me to switch positions a few times, and urged me to breath in the oxygen they were giving me. The OB checked and everyone stopped moving so fast when they declared me to be 6 cm. My heart sunk. It was 1:10am. They inserted the aforementioned IV. I still felt the urge to push and I couldn’t fight it, so I continued to push with each contraction. Not but a few minutes later I heard the OB say, “we’re going to have a baby here within the next 20 seconds”… and the room full of nurses started cheering on my pushing efforts. About four contractions later, at 1:16am, you were on my chest… your fluid-filled ball sac catching my eye during the transfer. A boy! They could have handed me a monkey and in that instant I still would have felt nothing other than complete and utter relief.

Moments later, my mom came in — the look of complete and utter surprise across her face. And moments after her, our doula arrived. Both intended to be at the birth but turns out that while some hurry up and wait, you prefer to wait and hurry up.

You pooped while you were on my chest, in true Jennett fashion (Hooper pooped on the way out too) and we all laughed by just how much poo there was and just how many of us your poo touched (all over my dress, all over your Papa who went to grab you and came out with fingers caked in green meconium, all over the nurses that eventually bathed you, and even on the OB who left soon-thereafter with poo on his jacket).

You latched on and breastfed like a champ, everyone commenting on the perfection of your latch.

We all took guesses at what you would weigh, with the majority of us (and the nurses) guessing in the 8 pound ballpark, sprinkled with a few 9 pound guesses. All of our jaws dropped when the scale read 10 lbs 0 oz. TEN POUNDS? So much for keeping an eye on my weight in hopes of it affecting yours. Should we be blessed with another baby in the future, I will surely take up smoking.

Welcome to the world, our world anyway, hope you enjoy your time here my sweet Sonny.

Born on St. Patricks Day, as only luck would have it.

———-

Post Script

Your Papa and I laugh about the fact you were almost born in the car. It seems only fitting that we have two ‘failed’ home birth attempts under our belts only to plan a hospital birth that nearly misses the hospital all together. There has been construction on the freeways here and given the 20 minute commute to the hospital, had you decided to come in the daytime hours, you would most certainly have been delivered in the car.

One additional token of irony is the ease of which you came out… the biggest babe of mine yet and somehow the easiest to deliver and with the fewest repercussions.

All of it proof, I suppose, that life doesn’t always have to make sense.

A Family Session, with The Pughs

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I met the Pugh family through another family I had photographed. You would think referrals would be a photographer’s bread and butter but to be honest, I get a bit nervous when someone hires me simply because I shot someone they know. I always prefer for my clients to have some knowledge of my work and style, if for nothing else than to have some idea as to what to expect.

The Pugh family instantly erased whatever fears I had and, as luck would have it, were a perfect fit. I met them at their home in Aliso Viejo and captured some family portraits as well as some lifestyle candids before heading out to the Newport Beach Civic Center.

I absolutely loved capturing the sister relationship and having two beautiful girls was a nice change from my everyday wrangling of boys. A beautiful family, indeed, that made every second of the shoot enjoyable and fun.

Interested in hiring me for a session? Shoot me an email, ashleyjennett @ gmail.com.

Life on the road, an interview with Renee

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Renee, @wandrlyrenee, and I have been friends via instagram for years now and she’s someone that has always inspired the go-see-do spirit that lives strong within me. She’s been living life on the road with her young boys for years and seeing snippets from her travels always has my wandering soul energized. Life on the road is always an interesting conversation because we all know how hard even stationary life with children can be. You may recall my interview with Kate, from @birchandpine, earlier in the year (you can read it here). In any event, I thought it’d be fun to continue the conversation with Renee. With no further adieu…

Tell us a little about yourself and your background. Where were you born and raised and how did it have an impact on how you raise your children?

I was born and raised in Michigan. My parents were boaters so that’s how we spent our summers. Maybe that’s where my love of living outside and close quarters came from. I’ve always thought it’s the same thing as camping you’re just on the water.
Tell us a bit about your husband and your boys.

My husband’s name is Nathan (@wandrly). He’s an incredible writer and artist. He’s a true dreamer and is able to make a reality of almost anything. He kicks ass. Tristan is our teenager. He came into my life with Nathan and was the most adorable eight year old I had ever laid eyes on. He’s truly the most compassionate and intelligent kid. I’m lucky to have him. Winter was my first babe. He’s five. Wild and crazy and full of life. He’s not an easy one, but he makes me a better person everyday and he changed my life when I first held him in my arms. My heart pretty much exploded when we met. Wylder is the baby. He’s three. He’s a hellion just like his bro, but he’s just too stinking cute. I had envisioned them to be best buddies, but it’s more like short bouts of love and mostly full on war. It’s crazy!!!

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The road is your home. How long have you guys been living on the go?

We’ve been living on the road around 6 years. We stopped to have our first baby on the Oregon coast and jumped right back in the bus when he was 4 months. The second guy was born in Asheville and that’s when we decided to buy an airstream, because we had outgrown our beloved bus.
Why is living on the road important to you and your family?

We really like being around each other. I had no idea how helplessly in love Id be with these boys. Traveling with them and showing them as much of this world we can is a dream. I get to teach them and watch them learn and grow. It’s amazing.
What kinds of things (if any) do you think your children are missing out on that others, in a more structured environment, have not or will not? How do you think it will affect them in the long run?

I don’t think the little guys are missing out on anything. They’re at the age where living outside and exploring is the best thing for them. Learning from each experience and growing into these rad little dudes. Their older bother is at an age where he’s starting to want a crew of friends and to stay in one spot. We’re trying to find a balance for him somewhere down the road once he hits high school. wanderly5
How do your children handle life on the road? I suppose they’re young enough to not know life any other way, just as my boys are unfamiliar with life on the road. But do they ever express a desire to stay in one place or do they embrace the adventure?

This is the only life they’ve ever known. Its a giant adventure. Moving around is part of it. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a daily routine like other kids. They do the same things everyday, but in new places.
How do you and your husband make life on the road work in a financial sense? Every time I dream of such a life, I get stuck on the financial aspect of things. 

We’re very fortunate that Nathan is able to work on the road. He’s a web designer so he works for himself. He works a regular work week. I take care of the kids and all the other things that need to get done and when he’s done we set off and explore the area we’re in. Things work out the best when we stay in national parks and state parks so we don’t even have to drive to get to the good stuff.
Describe a typical day… from how you wake up, to what you eat, all the way to bedtime.

A typical day would be wake up feed the boys and get them outside. Tristan does school and Nathan works. The boys play around the campground exploring the area, riding bikes, getting dirty with whatever they see. After lunch the guys are usually done so we’ll find some kind of activity to do as a family. Hike, climb on rocks, walk the town, check out the visiter center, find the ice cream shop. If we’re not in the woods we usually find ourselves in small towns which I love.
After dinner I give the boys showers and they’ll watch a show while I clean up. Nathan and Tristan will make a fire and go over school for the day and hang out. I’ll read the boys a couple of stories and they’re usually passed out by 7:30 or 8:00. Then Nathan and I have the rest of the night to hang out. wanderly3
Where have you been and where would you like to go?

We’ve been all through the U.S.  Right now we’re traveling through Baja with our friends and still deciding what’s next. It’s been an amazing trip down here so far. Our friends have three kids and we’re a  traveling tribe of ten. We’re meeting new people everyday and hearing their stories about how they are making life on the road work. It’s awesome how many families are out here doing this.

 

What was your favorite place yet and why? Gosh that sounds like a question my Grandma would ask. I’m sorry.

I’d say Baja has been my favorite so far. Everything is completely different. It’s refreshing and exciting to set off and have no idea where we’ll end up. The people are so nice. The food is killer and everything is super cheap. Driving down dirt roads to camp on secluded beaches. Hanging in little towns meeting and connecting with so many lovely people. It’s honestly been unreal.

 

Do you ever get time alone with your husband? What’s it like living in such close quarters? Perhaps the most memorable part of watching the documentary Surfwise was the part where the children recounted walking in on their parents having sex on a regular basis and that being something that was more or less the norm. Not that I want the details of your sex life, but I am curious about privacy and time alone with one another… If you’re willing to share… wink wink. 

We get plenty of alone time. Tristan pops in his tent and plays games with buddies online, and I put the boys to bed crazy early so we have the whole night to hang by the fire, drink some beer, and talk about life. wanderly4

We’ve been friends for a long time via social media. Have you met a lot of likeminded people on the road through things like instagram and Facebook? 

We’ve meet some really great people through Instagram. Most importantly the family we’re with now. We met years ago and always made an effort to hook up whenever we were in the same parts of the country. Now we’re traveling all through Mexico together and it’s so great. Sometimes you meet people and you’re instantly friends. This crew is like our family now.
How do you view your future? How long do you think you’ll keep on’ truckin’? Do you ever have the desire to settle in one place? And if so, where would it be (I imagine it being a difficult choice after having experienced so many rad places). 

We talk about buying land at some point. A place Tristan can hang and find himself a bunch of friends. After that I’m sure we’ll be off. Nathan and I want to see as much of this world as possible. We both get really antsy standing still. Our life isn’t always perfect but we both want the same things and that’s something that we thrive on. Living life this way is harder in many ways but it feels good to actually be living.

 

You can read more tales from different families regarding life on the road by checking out Wand’rly Magazine. I especially liked this piece on How to Travel Full-time

He’s here…

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Sonny Jennett
Born 3-17-2016
10 lbs 0 oz, 22 inches long

As soon as I am comfortable enough to sit for the amount of time to write about his birth, I will. Until then, I have loads of sessions to catch up on sharing as well as a few interviews and various other things I’ve been meaning to share (including photos and tales from Cuba, which is long overdue).

Sonny and I are home and doing well. Thank you to all of you who have supported my family and I through this journey… I’ve shared more over on instagram, if you want to take a peek.

41 weeks and then some…

San Clemente Family Photographer-3482I’m running low on prenatal vitamins. So low that I actually counted them out to see if the bottle of pills perhaps holds the magic eight ball answer as to when I will go into labor. According to the number left, I’ll be going into labor on Monday, after lunch.

We bought the boys squeezable greek yogurt, which is something new that they’ve started carrying at our local store. I’ve been hijacking the grape because it tastes just like grape bubbilicious gum. I eat greek yogurt almost daily while pregnant because of the protein content. I’ll be writing Chobani and requesting that make the grape flavor in the adult size so I don’t have to feel like a tool.

I don’t recommend sex at 41 weeks pregnant. Sure, this might be TMI, but it needs to be said for all the people who suggested it. I want to punch each of you in the face.

I know I said I was done with all the natural labor induction techniques, but I did try some acupuncture points because I figure at least those are reminiscent of a foot rub. And I did have some pretty strong contractions that for a few hours were coming pretty regularly. Alas, I’m still pregnant.

When I told Willy I was “over the wait”, he suggested I open the envelope that unlocks the answer to the gender of our baby. I told him the truth, which is I still don’t care – at all – about the gender, I just want to meet the damn booger.

The whole Pisces versus Aires thing has been weighing on my mind more than it should. I suppose you start to hang onto stupid shit at this point. So even though I have an induction date tentatively set for Tuesday (I’ll still push it off if all checks out fine), I’d really rather the baby come before Sunday because after that, it’s an Aires. I’m a Cancer and I favor water and earth signs. I dated a fire sign and he was a dick.

I find myself willing my water to break to the point where I’ll actually reach down to feel if my pants are wet; like I can sometimes fool myself into believing there is a sensation of water trickling down my leg. It’s crazy how strong our minds are… so easy to fool ourselves into believing. In actuality, only something like 15% of labors start with the rupture of membranes but I’m so jealous of those that get that definitive start. I wish.

I’ve done really well to keep an eye on my weight this pregnancy; not because I gained a lot in my last pregnancies but because my babies end up getting so big. My last midwife suggested I go on a 25 lbs weight gain limit should I get pregnant again. I’ve held to it but these last few weeks have been the most difficult. I deserve cheesecake and chocolate, dammit. In any event, since last week I’ve lost two pounds which is a sign labor is coming, though I’ll believe it when I feel it.

I spread the simplest of tasks out over days; like the loads of laundry that I literally took four days to complete. And now they’re done and I’m back to twiddling my thumbs. I even threw in some stuff to constitute a hospital bag, which is something I’ve never showed up to the hospital with and consequently wasn’t high on my to-do list. I wasn’t even sure what to include but ultimately I put the following: some clothes, a onesie and blanket, toiletries, a couple protein bars (I don’t follow the ‘no food’ during labor rule), and a grip of chocolate.

The fish bowl is cleaned and I got a pedicure for the first time in at least a year.

I bought more girl clothes. I still hold strong that I don’t care about the gender but man it’s going to be hard returning some of these girl clothes should it be a boy… Is liking girl clothes reason enough to put one gender higher on the want list than the other?

I’ve been fulfilling all the orders that come in via The Bee & The Fox either the same or next day. It’s my hope to leave as little for Willy in that respect as possible but man, it’s been weeks of doing orders on the daily and I’m drained. And grateful, really.

A friend mentioned that she ate a lot of pineapple toward the end of her pregnancy. I’ve been eating pineapple daily since I found out I was pregnant. I now feel like pissing on what’s left of the pineapple in the fridge and telling it to go cause sores in someone else’s mouth.

I went to the doctor yesterday. I’m now 4 cm and 80% effaced. He said he “doesn’t know” why I’m not in labor. I seriously feel like I’m going to dilate all the way to 10 cm and still not be in active labor.

I’ve stayed away from google much of this pregnancy and it wasn’t really hard, to be honest. But you know what I’m spending my time asking google these days? Really dumb questions like “when am I going to go into labor?”. I’m telling you, I’ve reached the point of no return. I can’t get out of my own way. I’ve been on the magic eight ball webpage and I’m completely and utterly ashamed.

I sleep really well until about 4 am and then I’m wide awake, worrying about everything. Last night I spent the wide-eyed moments researching recommended pitocin dosages, should I need to be induced. I’m sure I was overloaded in my labor with Hooper. It’s relieved some anxiety and has also given me the opportunity to discuss with my OB how he writes his order for induction via pitocin so I at least feel as though I have something to hold him to should we have to cross that bridge.

When your looking for hope in any little crevice, I mean I googled ‘the magic eight ball’ for goodness sakes, researching signs of impending labor can be maddening. You want so desperately for someone or something to give you some affirmation and, with labor, you just don’t get anything of the sort. Instead you get things like “this means you can hurry up and wait” or, my favorite, “this means that labor may start in a few hours or within the next several days”. I took an online labor quiz, because I told you I’m desperate, and one of the questions asked if your pet has been more clingy. It went on to say that this could mean it senses labor coming on or that they may just love you. No definitive answers, ever. Pregnancy is a true test of patience.

The Bee & The Fox | Pinterest

the bee & the fox

The Bee & The Fox is now on Pinterest and this little addition has proven a welcomed distraction. You can find me by clicking here.

In other shop news, newly added items include the following:

African Mud Cloths

Free As A Bird, Happy Camper, & Keeper onesies

Pick Flowers Not Fights + Happy Camper in adult sizes

We had listed some vintage Persian rugs which all sold and we’ll adding more hopefully this week (pending this damn child’s arrival)

Hooper @ 5 years, 4 months

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Appearance & Growth:

You are tall and thin and if I were to continue doing these updates for the remainder of your life, I’m pretty sure I’d just copy and paste that little known fact. In general, you’re whimsy like a bicycle. But strong. You can do push-ups with ease.

Your hair is still blond and when it’s clean, it curls just a bit at the ends. Your hair is currently down to your shoulders, but you don’t like wearing it up in a pony tail.

You’re in size 5T in pants and need a belt with just about every pair you own, with the exception – per usual – of the few vintage pairs you own that seem to have a smaller waist. We forget the belt often and you’re constantly tugging at your pants, pulling them back up. You can wear size 4 or 5 shirts and I think you’re in size 11 or 12 shoes, it’s hard to keep track. You weigh somewhere in the ballpark of 40 pounds, qualifying you for a simple booster seat now in-leiu of the big honky carseat, but you’re still in the big honky carseat for now.

The dentist found two cavities. We’re now flossing and rinsing with fluoride.

 
Eating:

We’ve turned some sort of corner and whatever difficulties we faced in the past have all but disappeared. Sure, it’s rare to get through an entire meal without reminding you, or your brother, to sit back down a thousand times, but all in all, the eating situation is much, much improved.

I make you a smoothie a few mornings a week. You need some motivation to get it all down, but most days you do pretty well. Ingredients include: OJ, chia seed, flax seed, spinach, pineapple, and strawberries.

You do well with rewards for good eating and encouragement.

Foods I never thought you’d eat but you do now: asparagus and green beans.

Favorite foods: Cheeseburgers (all day, everyday), grilled cheese, macaroni, bread / carbs in general, raspberries, american cheese.

You’ve told on yourself several times for “sneaking up on food”, which translates to you raiding the cabinets while we’re upstairs working and usually equates to missing candy corn or a rim of cheese from Doritos around your mouth as leftover evidence.

San Clemente Family Photographer-3294Sleeping:

If we’re in the car for a long period of time, you’ll usually take a nap. But not always. On average you sleep about 11 hours, from about 8:30pm to 7:30am.

Most nights we find you sleeping side by side your brother in his little twin bed. It’s just about the cutest thing we’ve ever seen and it’s becoming the norm.

You still sleep with your blanket every night, with various stuffed animals making their way in rotation and changing their levels of significance. But more nights than not you’re fine without any stuffed animals at all.

We no longer close your door at night and allow you the freedom to get up and take yourself to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It’s been fun to see you gain this independence and you’ve accepted this new freedom well. We’ve added night lights in your room as well as in the bathroom.

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Talking:

You asked me the other day if you could marry Jimmie.

You came home from school the other day, told me you kissed a girl in your class twice, and then proceeded to tell me, “Mama, I weally wyke (really like) gurls (girls)”.

You think it’s funny to say “I’m going to throw up”, followed soon after by “just kidding”.

Since our last trip to Arizona, you’ve been saying you want to work with cows when you grow up, like your grandpa Niles.

Not sure where you picked it up, but you’ve started counting to ten in Spanish, only it’s resemblance to actual Spanish is questionable, at best; “Cuatro” sounds more like “colossal”. In any event,  you’re showing interest in learning more and it’s been fun to hear you pick up on a few words: “excellente”, “vamanos”, “perfecto”… You know how to say “my name is Hooper” in Spanish and pick up on others in public speaking in Spanish.

You use the word “dude”. The other day you got upset at me for asking you to clean up and told me, with angst in your voice, “Knock it off, dude”.

There was a period of time where you responded to requests like, “Hooper, can you pick up your toys” with, “Five year olds aren’t good at picking up toys”.

You use the word “yesterday” to refer to anytime in the past… no matter how long ago whatever event you referencing occurred.

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Development:

You write with your left hand but are able to use scissors with your right. I keep intending to buy you left handed scissors to give a try but you seem pretty well adapted to the right handed ones. You’re left leg dominant as well and are able to hop better on your left foot than your right. You’ve attended a little golf class with your g’pa Jeffers and the coach there says you’re a right handed golfer.

You won’t let us take the training wheels off your bike. We pick our battles.

Rather suddenly you’re aware that there is some inherent degree of embarrassment associated with being naked and though you still like to strip off all your clothes and surprise everyone with a naked rampage, you also worry about people “laughing at you” and don’t like to step foot out the door in your underwear much anymore. But then, just the other day, you rode your bike in nothing other than your choines without giving it any thought. So you haven’t made the full transition.

You often refuse to blow your nose and are constantly sucking your boogers back up into your nose whenever you have a cold.

You’re really exercising your independence as of late; this includes climbing on top of the counter and fetching your own snack as well as pulling a chair into your closet to reach your shirts so you can fully dress yourself. You brush your teeth on your own but definitely benefit from a little assistance. You wipe your own butt. Things I can’t wait to check off the list: getting your shoes on by yourself and strapping yourself into and out of your carseat on your own.

You can do a poor excuse for a cartwheel, but it resembles a cartwheel none-the-less.

You ask lots of questions, good questions. Like today you inquired, “mama, when the baby cries in the middle of the night is it going to wake me up and aren’t you going to be tired having to get up all the time?”. You ask lots of questions that prove wheels to be spinning and point to good intuition. You’ve asked more than once how Papa “put his seed in me”.

You love school and have lots of friends. Your teacher describes you as impulsive as well as the class “reporter” (apparently you tell on people a lot). I describe her as a saint for putting up with the 20+ boys in your class.

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Favorites:

Legos are your latest obsession. The swords and guns have been put away in the closet and we are now dealing with stepping on little itty bitty pieces of legos all day long.

You have a fascination with Star Wars despite never seeing the actual show / movie. It’s amazing what marketing and influence from friends at school can do…

Jimmie, hands down, is high on your list of favorites. You play with him all the time, love to cuddle him and give him treats, and point out how cute he is constantly. You really enjoy his presence and company.

You love doing what you refer to as your “science experiments” which really just involves filling test tubes with whatever you can find: soda, juice, or my favorite from this morning, granola.

41 Weeks…

San Clemente Family Photographer-3444I feel like every shower may be my last one before I give birth. Pregnancy hair has allowed me to push off washing my hair to every three days, which seriously is enough to make me want to get pregnant immediately again. I kid. Kinda. I’ve tried to increase the frequency back to the everyday or at least every other day rhythm. Point being, my legs are always shaved and lotion always applied because, well, you never know who may be holding your leg later in the day.

Before I call any loved one, I feel as though I need to shoot a text over that reads “I’m not in labor but I am about to call you”. I can’t stand hearing the anxious anticipation that comes with answering my call as if I’m on the way to the hospital. The other day my mom called me and asked, “did you just call? I heard the phone ring but couldn’t get to it in time”… I could hear the anxiousness in her voice and it makes me feel awkwardly disappointed every time I have to say “no, I’m not in labor” and “no, I didn’t call”.

I’ve started wearing deodorant to each of my OB appointments. That’s when you know shit’s getting serious… when someone who doesn’t normally break out in body odor has to prep for the pain that comes with membrane stripping or the uncomfortableness that comes with pleading for another week of waiting…

The last time I had my membranes stripped, my OB turned as he was walking out the door and said, “you know, I’ve never put someone into labor by stripping their membranes”. I wanted to respond with something smart ass like, “well you got to finger me anyway, so consider it a success” but I said something more polite like “maybe I’ll be your first”.

I’ve come to detest the comments that go a little something like this, “well, just remember it’s easier having them inside than it is outside, so enjoy the last few days or weeks because it’s going to get harder”. Sure, the statement is true. But worrying about going post term and the health of your placenta and the amount of fluid in your belly and  your baby aspirating on it’s own shit isn’t fun… I’d rather wake up in the middle of the night to a baby next to me, no matter how sleep deprived it makes me… because having the piece of mind of a healthy baby next to me is priceless. But ya, shit’s about to get harder. Duh.

When I went to my 39 week appointment, I remember the receptionist at the front desk telling me about a patient who had just left. She was kind of puffing her feathers when she said, “I could tell as soon as she walked in that she was ready to give birth”. According to her, and she sees pregnant women all day long, there is a “look” that we have when we’re at the end of our rope. I was practically gleaming when I walked into that appointment; knowing that the end is in sight. When I asked her if I had the same look (because hashtag: optimistic), she tilted her head to the side and said, “aw, this is your first pregnancy, isn’t it?”. I knew right then I didn’t have the “look” and felt like an idiot for asking when I knew I was way too jolly to be at the end of my rope. She went on to say that the woman who left the office was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced and said, “I’ll bet he’ll be seeing her in the hospital tonight”. I know now that when I walk through those doors for my next appointment that I need to put on my best dejected face. I do feel rather dejected and I’m basically hanging onto the frayed ends of my rope. Hoping that means I’ll walk out with the same hope. Or better yet, not make it to my next appointment.

My OB waited until my 40 week appointment to tell me he would not be on-call over the weekend. At the same appointment he told me I’m 3 cm and 70% effaced. It seems only fitting that I would be destined to go into labor when he’s not on-call and continue the trend of my babies being by delivered by anyone other than the person I have selected to do so. Buttttt… given the fact it’s Monday, that ship has sailed. This baby must have a thing for douche-bags.

Fortune cookies really blow these days, but the last one I opened made me smile. It read, “Be prepared to receive something special”. I’m prepared, dammit. Now come…

My breast pump is out because I gave the good ol’ nipple stimulation a try. Later in the evening I found the boys, each with the suction part of the pump connected to the bottle, pretending they were guns. Hashtag: signs of things to come.

I scheduled an induction date that I’m surprisingly comfortable with only because I have this weird confidence / feeling that I’ll be in labor before that dreaded date comes. And even if I do make it to the eviction date, I made my case of having my water broken – instead of using pitocin – to induce labor. While my OB didn’t seem to think my plan would necessarily work, he did agree to it.

My neighbor suggested I jump on a trampoline. I wanted to tell her that I struggle to hold my pee in when I blow my nose. And damn this cold because I’m blowing my nose a lot.

I’m in this weird limbo of wanting to have something to do everyday yet not having the energy to finish the few things that have been lingering on my to-do list for months; like updating my photo website, for example. In general, I would describe myself feeling “blah”. Really blahhhh. I imagine this is how dads feel most weekends… laying around, being unproductive, watching TV… Turns out, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be… for me, anyway.

I’ve been sleeping way too good to be 41 weeks pregnant. Makes me feel like actual labor is even further away.

Timing contractions with two young children is nearly impossible. I’ve downloaded the app, which is something I initially told myself I wouldn’t do until my contractions became something that tore me away from whatever it was I was doing. As soon as I start to recognize a pattern and gain some hope, mama duty calls and the whole keeping track thing goes out the window. So basically I’ve had a lot of contractions, mostly in the 7-10 minute apart ballpark, but capturing any evidence of such has proved futile. And the frequency of said contractions has been occurring for daysssss… hashtag: nothing new.

I’m dying for a stranger to ask me when my due date is so I can say “last week” and get that look that makes me feel as though I should be in bed, twiddling my thumbs and waiting but the reality is most days I haven’t mustered up the energy to leave the house so I’m doing exactly that — twiddling my thumbs and waiting at home. Which is brutal, by the way. Given the fact I’m sleeping well, you’d think I’d have the energy… but scroll back up to that “blah” feeling and re-read. I did make it out over the weekend and when asked, “how far along?” my reply was simply “too far”.

I ventured out to buy some new underwear because daily tasks have become a necessity and new underwear is something I’ve put off for far too long. I ended up also buying two pairs of jeans to add to my post-pregnancy-prize-pack, which essentially breaks my own rule as now I have the dreaded worry of not fitting into them. But, they’re rather stretchy, they were on sale, and I have 180-some-odd days to return them if they don’t work. It’s funny how a few new articles of clothing can make you look so forward to not being pregnant. Oh wait, I didn’t need to buy clothes to feel that way… Hashtag: feelin’ that way anyway.

I’ve watched ‘Gilbert Grape, Lost Angels (a documentary on Skid Row), and Lost for Life (a documentary on juveniles serving terms of life in prison) which collectively amount to more time spent in front of the TV, for me, in the last week than in the last six months, at least. And sadly, it’s not even enjoyable. It feels like such a waste but at the same time I don’t have the energy to do anything else. The thought of even returning emails makes me want to puke. Back to that “blah” feeling.

I’ve succumbed to simply waiting. The day after I tried a combo of root bark cotton extract and nipple stimulation I woke up with sore nipples and swore it all off. I also burned Moxa sticks between my toes, per another friend’s suggestion, and following the smell that filled the house Willy put his foot down and said no more. This baby will come when it damn well pleases. I know this. What I don’t know is why I don’t accept it. Until now, that is. I’m done.

I made myself a cup of hot chocolate and thought the indigestion that followed would knock me out for the remainder of the day. I’m fragile physically as much as I am mentally at the moment. But really, I can handle the physical side effects that come with 41 weeks of pregnancy, it’s the emotional stuff that eats me alive and chops down my core.

Should this babe need to be evicted, it would be an Aires and I was kind of counting on a Pisces. Am I a prick for having a preference? San Clemente Family Photographer-3492

40 weeks…

San Clemente Family Photographer-1515 San Clemente Family Photographer-1944I called my grandma the other day. We were both battling the cold that seems to be making it’s way around all the households these days. I giggled when she asked, “What happens if you go into labor? Will the hospital turn you away because of your cold?”.

I got up to pee four times last night.

I didn’t really think twice about the due date that my doc originally assigned me because early-on it didn’t really matter. But now that the countdown has begun and I know the induction conversation awaits just around the corner, I’m finding myself researching due date calculations and adjusting mine – in my favor, of course – accordingly. Luckily google agrees with my calculations so now it’s just a matter of convincing my doc that my calculations make more sense than his.

I roll my eyes every time I over hear willy joyfully say “any day now”, which started at 38 weeks and while technically true, seems like a statement that was made in what should be considered ancient history in terms of labor. I keep reminding him, and everyone he suggests “any day now” to that “any day now” most probably means at least a week or two or – God forbid – more.

I’ve been checking my underwear like its fucking Easter and I’m hoping to find an Easter egg. And by Easter egg I mean any sign of life to come — discharge, blood, even dribbles of urine the lunatic in me can pass off as “leaky water”.

It’s getting harder to hold my bladder. I shoved Hooper out of the way to beat him to the toilet the other day and felt like a total loser. When I was pregnant with him, I mistook pissing my pants for my water breaking. When it happened the second time, I was actually prepared with a plastic syringe I had taken from work and used to draw some up off the floor to prove, in fact, it was urine.

Every time I feel a contraction I hear this voice in my head that sounds like a sweaty man watching Sunday football, his favorite player running in a touchdown, with teeth clinched and grunting – almost as if during aggressive sex you see in the movies – chanting “yes! Yes! Bring it! Bringgggg ittttt”… And then the contraction ends I feel like I just got off one of those chintzy roller coaster rides at the local carnival when I was hoping for amusement park grade.

The milk in our fridge expires well past my due date. It’s weird to think of me going into labor, spending a few days in the hospital, and returning home – with a baby – to that same gallon of milk in the fridge. Hashtag: where my thoughts go.

Baby brain is in full effect. I refer to things I did yesterday as occurring days ago and am baffled when asked by someone how yesterday went because, for the life of me, I can’t recall a mere 24 hours prior to whatever moment I’m currently in.

I met my sister for dinner at a local mall and ended up leaving the mall with a bag full of girl clothes. I’m not really sure what spurred the urge. Lately I’ve been feeling like this babe may be a little lady, though regardless I find my actions completely absurd. I’ve added ‘return bag of girl clothes’ to the honey-do list while I’m in the hospital should another dick come out of me.

My dear friend Audrey offered me a virtual seat in her class, Breaking Through via The Define School, to help pass the time. It’s nice to have homework for the next few weeks.

I’m sick of not being able to see my lady parts and yet, when I catch a glimpse in the mirror, I wish I hadn’t. Know what I mean? y…eah.

And yes, we included Jimmie in our last round of booth photos.

An interview with an OB…

thestorkandthebeanstalk

A while ago, I posted here and on instagram about my own personal experiences with midwives and compared it to my current experience with my OB. While many commented and shared similar sentiments, there were still others who defended their own positive experiences with their OBs (and hey, more power to them). If there ever was an asterisk attached to anything and everything I share, it would read this: *based only on personal experience. I’m hardly trying to be the voice for anyone other than myself. It’s hard enough at times to find my own voice, I certainly don’t feel the need to put words in the mouths of others.

One reader, however, caught my attention. What she said was not judgmental or harsh, but rather she expressed sadness with the way OBs are bashed. She said, “There are many practices out there, like my own, where its a collaboration between midwives and OBs – we both benefit from each other and most importantly the patient benefits… The focus on birth and birthing stories, birthing photography, videos, etc has sadly turned such a private intimate moment for a family into a business and a chance to out do each other… Birthing is one of the most sacred moments in a woman’s life, but it’s only one moment of many to come for the couplet”.

I use my blog to share my own experiences, sure, and whoever follows along can follow along on their own free will. But when given the opportunity to expand and share a different side of the coin, you better believe I’m grateful. I realize that my own experiences are a mere drop of water in the ocean and anytime the opportunity should present itself to share a different point of view, I’m all about it.

So, I contacted Ema and asked her if she’d be willing to share more about her OB practice and thoughts, in general, about the current state of birth. I feel so fortunate to have her and hope you all can appreciate the conversation; because that’s what it’s all about — not who’s right or wrong, but the dialogue.

For the past 8 years, Ema has chosen to work in OBGYN-Midwife collaborative group at North County Health Services, where they have 5 OBGYN’s and 10-12 Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM). With no further adieu, here’s Ema…

 

It could easily be argued that the way you have designed your practice is quite progressive, as the tandem approach to patient care between OBs and midwives is not something we see often. Why have you chosen this model and what would you say the advantages are?

 

I am certainly blessed to have found North County Health Services. But in reality, I think it actually found me.  My entire training starting in residency has been along side midwives.  I did my residency in the military, an institution that is very progressive in its use of ancillary health professionals, specially midwives.  The biggest advantage I see is that it is a win-win for the patient.  As one of my OBGYN colleagues jokingly says, “they do all the crunchy-granola stuff and we do the high risk stuff”.  But it is all part of the same practice.  Patients get the sense that there is a team based approach to their care, multiple eyes reviewing their antepartum care, if complications arise, the OBGYN is a phone call away and if all goes well, the patient receives a hospital based midwife attended delivery.
The advantage is that it is the best of both practice patterns.  The key to our practice is that it is truly collaborative- we all meet for 4 hours weekly to discuss cases, learn each others’ practice patterns, and share info/management plans on the higher risk patients.  This helps bridge the gap in communication and overtime reinforces the trust needed to have this unique collaborative model.

 

In recent years, there has been several documentaries put out about birth. Take the Business of Being Born, for example. Have you seen it and what are your thoughts on it?

 

Indeed!  There are in fact several documentaries.  I have watched Business of Being Born.  Although this movie was revolutionary in highlighting the natural and gentler side of child birth (providing contrast to the mass media depiction of a screaming birth), what it did do is provide a very biased depiction of this business.
The OBGYNs that were in the movie seemed to be unfamiliar with natural birth options and hence the debate started off with an unfair advantage.  I read in an article while researching this answer, “Noam Chomsky once pointed out that if you only allow two view points, and then allow vigorous debate between the two view points, you can achieve the appearance of democracy and free speech without ever actually having it.”  What I do appreciate about the movie is that it is a good starting point for further discussion.  For example, although the profession of “midwife” or “midwifery” is used in this film, it should be noted that there are several types of midwives. Lay midwives, certified midwives, and certified nurse midwives- which are the only ones who can work in a hospital setting.  They have far more extensive training and education than lay midwives.  The audience is left to think that there is only one kind of midwife practice without any indication that there are vast differences between these subsets.

 

I think these documentaries are somewhat responsible for a certain degree of fear some women have toward birthing in a hospital. Would you agree? Do you think this fear is justified?

 

Once again by the biased portray of the business of midwifery vs. obstetrics, yes, movies like BOBB, feed the fear in the masses.  As I mentioned before there are a plethora of documentaries on birth that I would recommend:

1. Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives
2. Midwife
3. From Conception to Birth
4. BBC documentary Childbirth All or Nothing

In addition, there is a great website that we encourage moms to look at:  www.evidencebasedbirth.com
I had horrible side effects following induction via Pitocin. I’ve read that Pitocin, while FDA approved for the induction of labor is not actually FDA approved for the augmentation of labor. Can you discuss the validity of this? 

 

Regarding pitocin- Pitocin is the brand name of the synthetic form of a naturally produced hormone called oxytocin.  It is derived from the pituitary gland of mammals.  According to the FDA or look on the FDA or other resources such as Physician Desk Reference, or websites such as drugs.com or rxlist.com,  Pitocin is indicated for the initiation (induction) or improvement (augmentation) of uterine contractions.
Therefore, I am not sure about the validity of the statement that it is not FDA approved for labor augmentation.
That being said, Pitocin is a drug and like any other drug it does have negative side effects.  Some of the reported reactions include:  anaphylaxis, nausea, premature ventricular contractions, hypertensive episodes, and with high doses uterine hypertonic its, spasm, or rupture of the uterus.  Therefore, beyond a certain limit, pitocin needs to be administered with an intrauterine pressure catheter.

 

There is a presumption that some OBs prefer performing a c-section to a natural birth for selfish reasons: more money, easy to schedule, etc. Have you noticed a trend of this sort among your colleagues? Can you speak to how the decision for some to go this route may taint the perception of the field of obstetrics as a whole? 

 

I think this is similar to the “bad apple” question.  I would like to think that I work in field with other altruistic physicians whom also have taken an oath to do no harm.  Therefore, even though there might be some who shift the pendulum, I firmly believe that these practices of financial gains and convenience are outliers and certainly not the norm.  And therefore, I am incredibly saddened that the few have tainted the perception of the many.  But I do hope that with conversations like this and continuous open discussion we can help shift this biased view.

 

I have two young children and a very busy schedule. We’re new to the area that we live and this will be my first birth in this new area. What tips would you recommend to someone like myself for finding a good fit in an OB without having to waste time I don’t have interviewing several? And what kinds of questions or things should one ask or look for when searching for an OB? As I touched on in my initial post, the OB I see was recommended to me by the local birth center, which was a huge deciding factor for me. It is also important that he is a sole practitioner as I mentioned that many of the OB practices in my area are part of a larger medical group and that continuity of care within these medical groups is typically lacking. 

 

I think what you did is exactly perfect.  Reach out to your local birthing center and ask for references or the names of their back up doctors.  Generally, but not always, these physicians have experience with midwifery care and can appreciate the different approaches.  You do need to interview, there is nothing, no Yelp, for physicians that would beat the actual gut feeling when you meet a physician.  I would encourage women to ask A LOT of questions regarding the relationship between the midwives and the supporting physicians.  One key factor is the financial drive in the relationship.  For example- if a group of midwives is working with a group of physicians and the midwife refers a patient to the physician for a consult, it would be financially advantageous for the physician to “label” this patient as high risk and therefore take the patient for him/herself.  This would then create a distrusting relationship between the two groups and ultimately put the patients at risk.   The midwives would fear loosing their patients and would be less inclined to refer or consult.  Therefore, a true collaborative model where there is no financial incentive between the parties is the model that works best.

 

Because you’re passionate about what you do, does it bother you that a few bad apples have more-or-less tainted the overall impressions of OBs? I’m sure reading experiences like mine weighs heavy on your heart and I wonder if you can’t see how other OBs have essentially worked against the fight you are fighting? And if I’m wrong on this entirely, feel free to call me out. I understand this statement may boarder on being presumptuous. 

 

Of course, in all professions however, there are always outliers.  The key here is to not be swayed by the “bad apples” and media and continue to do what at the end of the day is good medicine.  There is an art to medicine and that is one of the reasons I truly love my job.  Unfortunately, “bad apples” lead to stricter guidelines that ultimately end up in the loss of this art.  It is a continuous battle.

 

You clearly see the benefit of utilizing midwives as they are, in your own words, “the first responders” in your practice. Why don’t you think more midwives are used within the hospital / obstetrics settings? 

 

To answer this question you need to recognize that the term midwife is an umbrella term referring to several different types of midwives.  There is a CNM- certified nurse midwife, a certified midwife, and a lay midwife.  There are training differences for each of these types of midwives and the only ones that can work in a hospital setting are CNM’s.  There are strict state/medical/nurse midwife/hospital board guidelines that dictate the scope of hospital-based practice.  I am not sure why a person would choose the different routes, but I am sure that the cost and duration of training are huge factors.

 

Can you discuss how beneficial it has been to have midwives as part of your practice and how what they might bring to the birthing experience differs from what an OB might bring? And perhaps how having the two together – midwives + OBs – proves most beneficial to patient care?

 

It is actually a little hard to answer this question because I don’t think of the practice as an OBGYN practice that has midwives but rather a collaborative practice.  Therefore, the benefit of having CNM’s in the practice is that our patients truly get the best type of care. CNM’s appointments are longer, although not by much, some patients get one CNM for the entire antepartum care while most others see a fair share of our CNMs.  I think this is helpful as there is a familiarity with the CNM attending your triage calls, L&D triage visits, and delivery.  In the clinic setting, patients benefit visits like a “spiritual cesarean” and other wisdom from Birthing From Within as some of our CNMs are also Birthing From Within educators. In the hospital setting, peanut balls, robozo techniques, and other Spinning Babies expertise to help rotate babies.
At the discharge, CNMs spend a great deal of time going over common questions, follow up precautions, and of course breastfeeding is highly encouraged and there are hospital based lactation consultants.  In case of clinical concerns, the OBGYNs are a phone call away and each high-risk patient is discussed in a weekly case conference for management collaboration.  In the hospital setting, if an emergency or complication arises, which needs immediate attention, the OBGYN’s are again a phone call away.  Truly, the collaborative models are an incredible resource that puts the patient and her pregnancy and birth experience at the forefront of the practice.

 

How do you balance the defense of the obstetrics profession with your empathy for those individuals who, like myself, have less than ideal things to say about their own experience with their practitioner?

 

I welcome opportunities like this to educate and communicate.  The professions have become so segregated but ultimately the end goal is a happy healthy couplet.  We can’t loose sight of this in the name calling game.

 

One of my friend’s husbands is an OB and he says he is very bothered by the birthing-at-home trend. He said, “Birth either goes totally fine or there are major complications requiring a hospital setting. There’s rarely an in-between.” What are your thoughts on this?

 

I would agree.  That is why sticking to strict guidelines for eligibility of a home birth is so important.
These guidelines were created to ensure a level of safety in a risky situation.  Our bodies and our births are unpredictable.

 

Do you find that the location of an OB practice matters? It seems that in very busy metropolitan areas, the staff is so overbooked and stressed, so even if the doctors have good intentions, they simply don’t have the time for personalized care.

 

I don’t think I can fairly answer this.  I will say that the example you pose would argue completely against the UCSD model- a hospital based birthing center inside a metropolitan academic institution.  I don’t think the location of an OB practice is so much the issue but the administration and staffing support of the hospital.

 

I have a friend who recently birth her fifth baby and for the first time was told she needed to put her legs in stirrups. Can you touch on how different hospitals have different practices and how somethings might be allowed at one hospital but aren’t at others?

 

I encountered this myself the other day at a birth.  Typically the people helping a woman push for 1-3 hours is a loving family member and the labor and delivery nurse.  This nurse wears multiple hats during this second stage of labor.  Having her be responsible for leg holding takes her focus off fetal monitoring, vitals monitoring, and overall lay of the LDR.  Therefore, if no other family member is available to help with leg holding, especially in an anesthetized birth, where the leg is really heavy, then stirrups are used.  The growing trend of rise in BMI’s also feeds this answer.  It is something that is worth addressing but women with higher BMI’s have a higher risk for pregnancy complications and in the second stage require a greater level of nursing support.
As far as differences in hospital delivery practices it comes down to the administration as well as the attitude/culture of the OBGYN Division in that particular hospital.  We are all governed by ACOG, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. However, there are variances within and different degrees of confidence/training/expertise amongst the staff in each L&D setting.  For example, an assisted vaginal delivery can be either via a vacuum or by forceps.  If the department has OBGYN’s who were trained in either technique more than the other, then you will see a shift in assisted vaginal delivery techniques.  The culture of our training sites has so much to do with how OBGYN’s practice as well.  For example, in my residency we used cytotec, misoprostol as an induction agent.  However, in my current practice, everyone was using cervidil and so I had to adjust my level of comfort with in.

 

How much of a role does the hospital have on the dictation of care a physician renders?

 

A LOT.  A silly example would be how much of a role does the HOA of a condo complex have when you rent out the community area and pool.  Ultimately, the HOA is also liable in any adverse events.
Therefore, the hospital administration, nursing administration and along with the division of OBGYN staff, together dictate the guidelines.  Protocols are written by, reviewed, and agreed upon by all involved.

 

I’ve often gotten the sense that the majority of OBs are most comfortable when delivering a baby in bed. Is this due to the way OB’s are taught / trained? Why is there trepidation with allowing a woman to labor and birth a baby in water? Water is a wonderful pain reliever for those who chose to go the natural route but it is rarely allowed in the hospital setting (outside of showers, which don’t really offer the same great relief as a birthing tub). Can you discuss this? And how does your practice navigate around the hospital limitations?

 

You are correct.  I am not aware of any OBGYN residency that offers training in water births.  The typical delivery position we are trained in is supine/semi fowlers.  However, those residents who have the fortune of having CNMs in their training institutions may have experience and comfort with other delivering positions. It is unfortunate that the OBGYN is finger pointed as the bottleneck for water births when there are so many layers to consider.  These have to do with infection control, staffing, resources/equipment, and the rate of turnover (house keeping).  There needs to be buy in from all these departments including Administration (finances, maintenance, engineering), Infection Control, RN, and Housekeeping in order to keep a water based practice practical and safe.
As one of my CNM mentors asked me in discussing this answer, “do you like cleaning your own tub at home?”
Now imagine this with industrial strength chemicals, several times a week.

 

The number of c-sections performed has gone up dramatically (only now starting to go down a bit). Do you think this is because of fear of liability issues? Or insurance payouts? Or convenience for all parties? Or all of the above?
 
There are many factors to this beyond what you have listed here.  First, you need to consider the change in the body habitus of women.  We are seeing a lot more obesity and women with BMI > 35 having children.  In addition to underlying obesity, the associated medical conditions such as diabetes, PCOS, and liver disease certainly affects the health of the pregnancy.  Babies of diabetic mothers are bigger and certainly at higher risk for birth trauma and therefore warrant evaluation and discussion for a primary cesarean section. The second overlooked factor is general living condition of pregnant women.  Our society has become one of “deep couch sitting” and screen time.  This reclined posture found in cars, theaters, at home, etc. perpetuates an occiput posterior (OP) position for the fetus.  In the OP position, the largest portion of the fetal vertex needs to engage the pelvic bones hence making labor more painful and longer.  The insurance payout, convenience statement might be true for some “bad apples” but it is certainly not for the majority of OBGYNs.  Fear of liability is better understood as a fear of bad outcome for either the mom or the baby.  OBGYNs have the lives of 2 people on their hands and it is the high desire for a good outcome along with the litigation scares that may sway decisions.  The invention of fetal heart rate monitoring has contributed to the overall higher number of cesareans.  Now we have a tracing that indicates what the fetus is experiencing and OBGYN’s are going to act to rectify the intrauterine environment, which may mean a cesarean section.

I read recently that “because birth matters. How you give birth matters.”  This was a very well done article on thebestofbaby.com.  For the most part I agree.  It does matter if your arms are tied down to the operating table, if your legs are in stirrups, if you are on your back, or upright in a tub, or squatting on a ball.  The entire birth experience matters as it becomes your babies story and how you both exist as a couplet now.  In order to have your birth experience, I encourage women to speak up, ASK questions, TALK to your physician.  There is no way that you will get your birth experience if you haven’t communicated and understood the practices of your physician.  Brining in a doula is essentially giving your power to someone else, someone who is paid to be your advocate.  But you can be your own advocate from the beginning.

 

Image of pregnant woman by By Rosenoff | Birth art found on Pinterest

Acupuncture

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San Clemente Family Photographer-3066 San Clemente Family Photographer-3077 San Clemente Family Photographer-3103 San Clemente Family Photographer-3104The office walls were practically covered in pictures sent in by previous patients; women and their baby bumps posing with him as well as images of newborns accompanied by the sweetest of thank you cards. Cards that read things like, “Thank you for helping us bring baby X into the world” or “You worked magic on my fertility issues so-much-so that I’m now pregnant again, thank you” and so on and so forth.

Little sentiments of gratitude from women that at one time lacked hope and then, BAM, got pregnant and seemingly owed all the good cheer to this unassuming, gentle doctor.

It’s not the first time I’ve done acupuncture. I gave it a try when I was pregnant with Hooper as well. It wasn’t a great experience for a lot of reasons. There was the one session that very nearly made me pass out. I seem to be prone to passing out, especially while pregnant. But the more annoying thing was when the girl who ran the place started texting me on a regular basis to see if I was in labor. She just became one more person to answer to and one more person to have to give the defeated “nope, not in labor yet” news to.

When he – the man in all the pictures that covered the walls like wallpaper – walked in the room I said, “I see you have good results with getting the babies in, do you also have good results with getting them out?”. “Oh yes, we do that too”, he said. I couldn’t seem to find one thank you note that spoke to the exit of said babies… but I wanted to believe him.

I was given the option to sit or lay down and I opted to sit. As he punctured my skin ever-so-slightly with the needles, I could feel my nerves twinge. My index finger started jerking. He told me this was normal. I sat there, the lights off, my fingers twitching, and my palms beginning to get clammy. I know what this means. Next thing I know everything is getting a bit fuzzy. I know I need to lay down but I’m not sure how to maneuver the contraption that is hooked up to the needles that are making my fingers do the jerky dance. I call out for someone to come help.

They unhook me and set me up once again, this time lying down. My vision clears, my hands dry, and my fingers continue with their herky jerky dance. A few minutes later, I’m unhooked, told to call “if” I need another appointment (which truthfully made me giggle internally — I felt like setting up at least five more appointments right then and there), paid $85 (insert big eyes here) and went home to sit on the toilet because beyond a few stomach cramps, I felt nothing.

The desperate part of me wanted to call first thing the next morning and schedule another appointment. But truthfully, I didn’t enjoy it, it wasn’t cheap, and I’m not having any issues with constipation.

And so, as I’m checking things off the ol’ natural induction list, I’m getting more and more comfortable with just waiting and trusting that sometime soon this baby will come. Because, well, it will.

Herky jerky fingers or not.

And so, I figure my days are better spent with my boys, savoring the last of the days where I have a one to one ratio in terms of hands to kids. Hoping that having a third grants me some monkey status, where my feet become equally useful as my hands. That’s a thing, right? Monkey status?

Arizona

the stork and the beanstalk

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Everything feels like it’s being crunched in before this baby comes — one last business trip to the desert, one last trip to see Willy’s family in Arizona, etc, etc. And while the phrase “crunched in” kind of insinuates that there’s not room for it, it’s quite the contrary; a welcomed reprieve from the ever-present “how many weeks pregnant am I” google search from home. I used to google it because I didn’t know; now I know how many weeks I am (due to the ease of simple subtraction from my due date, which is – good golly – today or tomorrow or yesterday…) but had been taking advantage of the countdown they also provide in terms of days… I swear they’re determined to pull you in one way or another.

So in February we took a final trip out to Arizona to visit with family. We spent lots of time relaxing, I hit up a few thrift stores, the boys discovered a dead hawk (we came back with a few tail feathers), Willy shot his guns, and we all enjoyed Superbowl Sunday just as we did last year, in the backyard with family friends; the boys and I more entertained by the horses than the game and the horses more entertained by the carrots we had to offer.

I had a photoshoot that I’m in love with and will soon be sharing, the icing on the cake to an already great trip.

Wondering how that 6-7 hour drive will fair with a newbie in tow… the times, they are (soon-to-be) a’changin’…

39 Weeks | Natural Labor Induction

San Clemente Family Photographer-3253When you get toward the end of pregnancy, everyone seems to have suggestions as to what worked for them in terms of going into labor. Just as I was leaving Van’s school, his teacher said, “you know what worked for my daughter? Walking”. It’s all in good nature and I’m in no way offended by the offerings of advice from others; rather, I know the truth – for me – is that labor starts whenever it damn well pleases. That’s because for the only two births I’ve experienced, there wasn’t a pineapple I didn’t eat, a hill I didn’t climb, or a magic wand I didn’t whimsically swirl over my head.

I tried everything; homeopathies, acupuncture, some ridiculous salad people swear by, castor oil, blue and black kohosh, sex, a breast pump to stimulate my non-milk-producing ta-tas, walking, stair climbing, ball bouncing, pleading, membrane stripping… the list goes on…

That’s not to say I’m going to sit around just waiting this time around. I mean the reality is that my days are still pretty full, but my intention is to – once again – be proactive. Not because I think it will work, but because I’m a woman, and dammit, being proactive speaks to the heart of my multitasking soul. I realize, however, that any attempt to control when this baby makes it’s exit is purely for the peace of mind of knowing I did everything in my power to offer it the warmest of invitations into the world. Because I fear induction, mostly. And secondarily because I fear the more time spent inside, the bigger this babe will get.

When I saw my OB at my 36th week appointment, my first – and only – question was “when can you strip my membranes?”. He laughed, because he’s a cocky bastard like that, gave me “the look” and said, “you know that doesn’t work, right?”. I mustered up the smallest of smiles but I really just wanted to spit on him.

Yes, I know none of it works. But, again, I’ll be damned if I didn’t say I tried everything I could.

I was researching an acupuncturist the other day and one of the reviews made me giggle. It went something like this: “Doctor so-in-so is amazing. I had tried everything and finally, at over 41 weeks pregnant, I decided to give acupuncture a try. The next day I went into labor”. Sure, the naive part of me wanted to call for the first available appointment but the logical me couldn’t help but think “lady, you’re 41 weeks pregnant… it was your baby’s time”…

Nevertheless, you better believe I have an acupuncture appointment. Not with Doctor so-in-so, but an appointment all the same. Hashtag: hope.

Each morning I’ve been making myself a cup of hot raspberry leaf tea. I don’t particularly care for it and given the 80 degree “winter” weather that’s filled the majority of the days as of late, I can’t even say I enjoy it. I’ve also been sticking these silly primrose oil tablets up my va-jay-jay every night. Evening conversations go something like this:

Willy: “Do you mind getting up to turn out the light?”
Me: “I would, but I don’t want my oil tablets to fall out”

I’m telling you guys, pregnancy turns me into a complete and utter lunatic come the end. I haven’t reached lunatic status just yet, but the anxiety and impatience and ticking-time-bomb feeling are whirling all around me and soon enough they will take over and I’ll be that toothless whack you see roaming the streets yelling at park benches.

Not because I think what worked for you will work for me, because – again – hashtag: logic, but for the pure sake of humoring me and making me feel less crazy, what kinds of things did you try in terms of at-home, natural labor induction?

Off to cut up some fresh pineapple so I can spend the rest of tomorrow bitching about the sores in my mouth and still being pregnant…

An Interview, with Van

Just as the interview with Hooper, I don’t expect anyone other than family to make it all the way through this interview, so here are the highlights: he doesn’t want a baby sister because he doesn’t like girls hair and because he had some bad experience I’ve never heard of before where some little girl put his face in his face, he desires to be a cowboy when he grows up, and apparently a shark bit his arm off.

A Birth Plan

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When we had our initial meeting with our doula she mentioned coming back, within a few weeks, to discuss our birth plan. I hung on the phrase birth plan much like when you stop listening to the rest of what someone says once they use a word you’re not familiar with; a word not within your known vocabulary.

I didn’t do anything between that first meeting and our second, in regards to my homework, the birth plan, but figured we’d have her over anyway because – well – we like her.

When I arrived at the hospital to be induced to deliver Hooper, the only instructions I gave my nurse – through choked up words and a few tears of defeat – were, “please don’t offer me an epidural”. Words I’d later regret around the 6cm mark but no longer have the ability to form verbal sentences to retract.

By the time the ambulance got me to the hospital to deliver Van, there was no time to make even the meekest of requests; things were happening to me, not with me at that point.

Needless to say, a plan has never proved itself needed and it almost feels sheepish at this point to put any sort of words down on paper as if experience itself hasn’t taught me that plans are, in my case, for the birds.

So when she asked me, all I could come up with is “you… you’re our plan… and to get the baby out as safely as possible”. So that’s the plan: I’ll make some calls when (hopefully) labor starts, we’ll go to the hospital, and we’ll deliver a baby. Sure there’s lots of holes in that plan but I’m going to allow them to fill themselves in.

Did you have a birth plan? How close did what played out relate to whatever plan you envisioned? Did your plan change as events unfolded and if so, how?

Childhood Unplugged | The Salton Sea

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Before we dropped Willy off at his meeting he told me, “Just don’t let the boys touch the fish or go in the water”. But within minutes, fish were touched and there wasn’t any winning that battle; pieces of fish bone crunching beneath their sledge covered shoes and falling through the crevices between their fingers. Holding up varying degrees of rotting carcasses, “Mama, is this one okay to pick up?”, proving needless to answer given the fact whatever fish they were inquiring about was already in their little grubby hands. “Van, keep your thumb out of your mouth” the only request I could muster at that point.

The Salton Sea; so beautiful on the eyes, so hard on the nose. This trip, however, proving not so bad on the ol’ sniffer. Not one complaint from the boys, actually, who – in the past – have been turned off by the stench of those rotting carcasses.

They climbed rocks, fell on rocks, made footprints in contaminated mud that made me cringe about the thought of those shoes later having to come off and me, invariably, having to touch them to do so. But as the sun fell and the water turned to glass I opted to rely on a faint hope that I would find some hand sanitizer in the car and with that hope I let go of whatever reservations I had. I suppose that’s what happens when in the presence of beauty. We watched the birds fly overhead, a line of other photographers slowly lining the shoreline and mimicking the arrangement of the flying birds themselves; one evenly spaced, straight line. Reflections of wood posts that used to anchor yachts that have since left for other waters, cleaner waters, mirroring the reflection of the mountains and making it all look like a Salvador Dali painting leaving one to question which end is up. Fish carcasses tossed back into the waters that have discarded them – killed them – breaking the glass-like appearance and sending ripples outward, stillness turned to movement; the silence broken. The color palette of the sky subtly changing.

We made our way back, the nights sky illuminated by what appeared to be a full-moon. The water turned back to glass, silence reigning once again in the wake of the exit of two little boys who did their damnest to return those dead fish to their home in the sea, the Salton Sea; ever beautiful, ever polluted. One of life’s most interesting conundrums. One of my favorite places.

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