Thursday, February 27, 2014

The midwife and the apprentice

Amanda’s and my plans for our second pregnancy and birth are almost identical to our first. We are again planning a homebirth; we are working with the same midwife and doula; and we are using the same obstetrician for backup medical support. 

The details of our two birth plans seem identical upon first glance, but there is one big difference. We are adding a new member to our birth team, our four-year old son, Ezra. 

Seeing his sibling’s birth will be an intense experience for Ezra. Birth is painful, emotional, messy, and kind of weird. It is also a joyous and exciting time for a family, and we cannot imagine Ezra not being a part of that moment. 

Including Ezra has meant that much of our preparation for this birth has focused on how to best accommodate his needs during the labor. We know that familiarity and knowledge are the best tools we can provide Ezra with to make his sibling’s birth a good experience. So, we try to involve Ezra in most of our prenatal appointments. He has been to a couple of ultrasounds at the doctor’s office, but his favorite appointments are prenatal checkups with our midwife.

Ezra loves when our midwife visits and greets her with a big hug. Before her arrival, he prepares for the appointment by getting out his medical kit so that he can help check the health of the mom-to-be and baby. Our midwife is impressively patient with him, and after several visits Ezra has become familiar with the routine. The appointments have been the perfect opportunity for Ezra to get to know our midwife so she will be a familiar, friendly face at the birth.

One of the many wonderful advantages of homebirths is that it is family friendly. Ezra could not participate in these appointments as openly or as comfortably in an OB office. Being at home for these appointments, and more importantly the birth, removes at least one source of anxiety. Even though seeing his mom in labor may be frightening, Ezra will be in the environment where he is most comfortable rather than an unfamiliar hospital room surrounded by strangers. Ezra should feel safe even if he is a little nervous, anxious, or even scared. 

Another advantage to being at home is that labor is not all excitement. At times, it can be pretty slow and dull. When Ezra is restless, bored or tired of waiting he will have plenty of his own toys, books, and games to keep him preoccupied. Though he will be present at the birth, he will also be able to navigate between the birth and his regular home routine. 

We want Ezra to not only feel secure with his surroundings during the birth, but also the people. Amanda and I know we will most likely be too preoccupied during labor to help him, and he will need to be able to seek support and comfort from others. My sister and brother-in-law were wonderful helping Amanda and me when Ezra was born. We were unsure if they would be able to be with us this time because they have a new baby and were thrilled when they asked if they were “invited.” I cannot think of any two people (three if you count his infant cousin) Ezra would rather have with him. 

They are also part of our extraction plan. If things become too overwhelming for Ezra, they can easily pack him up and head to their home. Ezra loves nothing more that a sleepover with his aunt and uncle. 

With only a couple of months left, we still have some work to do to fully prepare Ezra. We continue to answer his questions and talk about both birth and pregnancy. We have also been showing Ezra pictures of himself immediately after he was born. As we move into the homestretch, we still have more to do, but think Ezra is well on his way to being officially trained and ready as the newest member of his sibling’s birth team. I should probably make him a certificate.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

31 Weeks

"When the baby is four he can wear my clothes. And, we'll get bunk beds to sleep in." ~Ezra

Saturday, February 15, 2014

30 Weeks

"Can we please name the baby Ezry? If it's a boy, I mean." ~Ezra

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine's Day playlist for Ezra

As I was creating this playlist for Ezra's Valentine's Day gift, I searched Spotify for the terms "Sesame Street" and "love." Oddly enough my search returned several songs sung by Oscar the Grouch, which just doesn't seem very grouchy, more like "Yucchy!" to quote Ezra's favorite green monster. For the last couple of weeks, he has been obsessed with making lists of all the rotten things Oscar loves, as well as the pretty things Oscar loves to hate, so it seems fitting to include his love songs to trash, the junkyard, and broken toys.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Can I be the parent I want to be?

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears.


Before Ezra was born, I took for granted that being older, I would be a more patient mother. At 34, I was more compassionate than I was in my twenties, and I felt ready for parenthood emotionally. Garry and I anticipated parenting with respect and sensitivity to our son’s needs and read books that fit with this approach: Magda Gerber’s Caring for Infants with Respect, Calm and Compassionate Children: A Handbook by Susan Dermond, Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen as well as books by William and Martha Sears, among others.

I’ve never felt much anxiety over many of the parenting decisions we’ve made – decisions related to working and childcare, feeding, sleeping, and discipline – until recently. Lately it feels like I’m failing more often than I’m succeeding at gently parenting my son. Ezra and I are engaged in a battle of wills over getting dressed, brushing teeth, at mealtimes, and at bedtime. At four, my son is creative and funny, but he’s also headstrong and energetic.

I frequently find myself yelling loudly and angrily and growing so exasperated and frustrated that I feel I must have the emotional intelligence of my four year old. Several times, I have brought myself to tears over my frustration. We are expecting our second child in three months, and I worry any reserves of patience I have will evaporate completely into thin air.

Even more, I worry which memories from Ezra’s fourth year will stand out. Will he remember playing, reading and cooking together, or will he remember raised voices? It’s this fear that is motivating me to look at myself more closely. Ezra’s unwillingness to cooperate with our requests is not unexpected. Our experience in co-op childcare and my participation in a local mom’s group guaranteed that I knew parenting a preschooler, and especially a preschool aged boy, could be difficult. Ezra is developmentally normal, testing boundaries, and exercising his independence just as we anticipated.

I had looked forward to this period of Ezra’s childhood, the time when he’s verbose, uninhibited, and inquisitive. But, I never imagined I would lose my patience with him almost daily. I don’t expect to be a perfect mother – I am human, after all - but my outbursts surprise even me; I am not typically prone to anger. Even while I am uncontrollably angry, I can visualize how I would like to respond to his obstinacy, but I can’t seem to bring those expressions to the surface – only angry, impatient words.

Last night, as I tucked Ezra into bed, he looked into my eyes, kissed me, hugged me and told me he loved me. My son is precious, and I am making a promise to myself and to him, that I will be the parent I want to be. Rather than reacting to him with volatility and anger, I will use the tools at my disposal to respond peacefully with empathy, compassion, playfulness and respect.

*** Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama

Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):
  • When Parents' Fears Escalate — If we didn't self-doubt, we probably wouldn't care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama's family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I'm a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Proactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son's future?
  • I Don't Homeschool to Manage My Kids' Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama's fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household - that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent - that most parents share - looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear...
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren't anywhere near as scary as she'd thought.
  • Don't fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me... — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

29 Weeks

"What does the baby do inside you? Maybe he watches T.V." ~Ezra