I've read many stories about people asking their toddlers if they remember being born, with the surprising result that many young children can recall details of their births that they would have no way of knowing otherwise. It's commonly believed that children don't remember much from their early childhoods, but research is starting show that isn't true.

So things like this really make me wonder how much Carter remembers. Does he remember being cut from my body far too early, isolated from human touch and warmth for so long? Does he remember painful procedures, the few blissful hours a day when he would sleep on my chest, the sound of the machines in the NICU?

When we brought him home from the hospital, he would not let us put him down. He demanded that we hold him 24/7 for months, and so we did. I think he was in constant contact with a human being for most of the first year of his life. He needed it so badly, and we were happy to provide him that security.

He hates loud noises, hissing sounds, and is incredibly disturbed by machines like vacuum cleaners, blenders, and hair dryers. He talks a lot about things that are "loud", many of which aren't actually that loud at all, but sort of hissing or continuous in nature, and I can't help but wonder if he is reminded of the sounds of machinery in the NICU when he hears those "loud" things.

I've often wondered what the legacy of his NICU stay would be, but it wasn't until now that I considered it might be something other than developmental. :-/
I was waiting for Mothering Magazine to say something about the recent news items about the relationship between circumcision and HIV. As usual, they lay out the facts and talk about what the science really says: The Truth About Circumcision and HIV: Some argue that recent studies support universal circumcision. The evidence disagrees.

If you've been reading this LJ for any length of time, you know that I was committed to a natural birth before I developed pre-eclampsia with Carter. Unfortunately, his very small size meant a vertical incision was required, which rules out a chance of a VBAC in the future. (I am aware that there are successful HBACs after vertical incisions, but I'm not willing to do a home birth after my experience -- and that's if I'm lucky enough to go full term AND if I'm lucky enough to actually get pregnant again.)

I was pretty devastated about the loss of my ability to give birth, but I'm moving on. And part of my moving on is reading about planned c-sections that are gentle, respect the baby's journey into the world, and are family-centered and baby-friendly (in the WHO sense). In other words, as close as I can get to the birth experience I used to dream about. Here are some interesting links:

http://www.ican-online.org/pregnancy/family-centered-cesarean
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6028478.ece
http://www.eheart.com/cesarean/oliver.html

Until reading this stuff, I never thought about writing a birth plan for a c-section, or having a doula present. This is really giving me hope that I might be able to have a positive birth experience someday!

*sigh*

Aug. 3rd, 2008 01:03 pm
I think I might have to stop watching [livejournal.com profile] naturalbirth. It's hard to read posts there about beautiful births and not be bitter about my own -- or bitter about the fact that I will never have one.

But the worst part is that I feel like I have nothing to contribute any more. When everyone is talking about how awesome it was to be able to just trust that their pregnant bodies were doing what they were designed to do, all I can say is that I can't trust my own any more. After all, I felt wonderful, even when I was checking myself into the hospital. But the reality was that I was dying, and taking Carter with me.

So I now have a perspective and an experience that doesn't seem to mesh well with everyone else in that group, even though I believe so strongly in what they stand for. *sigh*
Yes, you read the subject line correctly! Have you wondered where I disappeared to in the last few weeks? The short version of the story is that I suddenly developed severe pre-eclampsia while visiting family in North Carolina, was briefly hospitalized, had a c-section, and will be staying here for the forseeable future while the baby is in the NICU.

As for the long version, I'll put it under a cut. These last two weeks have been the most difficult and stressful of my life, and it came completely out of nowhere. It's hard even to remember what life was like just a short time ago. I think the best way to tell this story is as it happened to me. I hope you'll bear with me.

The full story, starting Thursday, January 3. )

I have a lot more to say about how he's doing, how I'm doing, how breastfeeding is going, life in the NICU, and so on, but that's another series of posts. For now, we're all fine. We've set up a blog through the hospital that you can check out to follow Carter's progress, if you like. You have to register for the site, and you'll get emails every time I update unless you opt out of that. There are pictures and more details there. Click HERE to access that site.

That's all for now!

Austin ABC

Dec. 20th, 2007 07:52 pm
I had a chance to visit the Austin Area Birthing Center this morning, and it was exactly what I was hoping for. The philosophy of the staff, the facilities, even the other clients I met and talked to -- all of it was in line with what I want my birth experience to be like. It's a birth center that specializes in natural birth, and 91% of their clients have successful natural births. Their c-section rate is 7%, which is well within the World Health Organization guidelines. Compare that to 33% for Austin in general. (!)

The birthing suites look homey and comfortable, and they have jacuzzi tubs (something I've heard works wonders during contractions), a kitchen where you can bring in your own food (you can eat and drink as much as you want while in labor, unlike in most hospitals). You are never separated from the baby after birth. All newborn check-ups happen in the room, on the bed where you're resting. You're welcome to bring in family, and to have your birth occur in whatever way you want. The midwives have decades of experience with natural birth, unlike most OBs, and they know what to do to keep you going and help you alleviate pain. They won't even let you go home until nursing is established.

So I went home, called Doug (who missed the tour because of a last-minute meeting), and decided that this is the place I want Boo to be born. So I'm moving my prenatal care there, starting with my next appointment. I was really starting to stress out about giving birth in the hospital, even with an OB who was supportive. I'd heard from several women who'd given birth at that hospital who reported having to fight with nurses to make sure their birth plans were adhered to, who hired doulas just so they'd have an advocate, who were labeled "problem patients" because they insisted on getting out of bed and moving around, whose partners had the job of making sure the baby wasn't given formula or water while out of sight of the mother, and so on. I talked to a couple today who had such an experience with their daughter's birth, and were determined not to let it happen again. The idea of trying to focus on relaxing and managing my birth and worrying about all of that other stuff was really causing me serious anxiety.

But now I can relax. I feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. This is exactly what I needed. :-)
Rita told me about this film, and the preview alone made me cry. It's called The Business of Being Born and it's about the birth industry in the US. It's being released in January, though not widely. I want to see it!

You can watch the preview HERE. If you have ever given birth or will be doing so in the future, check it out. It looks like it will be a powerful film.

There is an interesting blog post about the film here.

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