Tuesday, January 24, 2012

HMG's Birth Story: Happy Birthday!

The first time I saw her, she was laying on her stomach, with her face delicately resting on her two hands. It was like a rosy glow surrounded her. I thought she looked so feminine. Definitely a girl. I HAD A GIRL!!!!! But she was too big for her incubator. I knew she couldn't be, but wasn't she cold? She'd been without me for so many hours. I wanted to hold her.

I cried.

HMG was 4 days late! At about 30 weeks of pregnancy I began to have strong contractions. My doctor was concerned I'd deliver early and quickly put me on bed rest. I was instructed to lay on my left side perpetually. I could stand to go to the bathroom and make myself a quick sandwich or set up prepared food for the baby--but that was all. I was advised to avoid the stairs as much as possible. My initial thought was,
I'll finally get some rest!

Our son was 15 months old at the time, and I was truly exhausted chasing him around with my big belly and low energy. My husband was working 2 jobs! One to pay the bills, another for the experience which would enable him to shift his career in a new direction. One job was local, the other involved a two hour commute round trip. My relatives lived at least 6 hours away. Thank God for very good friends.

Our full bath was upstairs, so I continued to sleep in our bedroom. We set up a mattress on the floor in the living room of our small townhouse. Every morning after showering and getting dressed (the most exciting moments of my day for 6 long weeks), I lay on that mattress. We gated the stairs and doorways to the kitchen. We tried to keep the bathroom and basement doors closed. I had a stack of books, toys, magazines, videos, writing paper on one side, arranged snacks and beverages on the other while facing a tiny 13 inch TV. Occasionally I would turn my head to enjoy our common lawn and the pretty city view from our double doored balcony. Thank God our complex was on a lovely hill!

At first it was wonderful...though the baby ran about freely and dropped crumbs EVERYWHERE, and the piles grew like sand dunes in the desert because
who could vacuum? His many toys were like an obstacle course all over the floor.

Though my husband was gone for long hours and when my friends visited I wondered what I was missing.

Though my mom was so far away and my sister called almost everyday until it felt like she was there but she wasn't.

Though I was eating so much processed food, it no longer tasted like real food.

Though I was watching so many movies
, reading so many books/magazines and doing all the crafting I never had time for before.

I was getting so much sleep!

Then, I just couldn't take it anymore because....

The baby ran about freely and dropped crumbs EVERYWHERE and the piles grew like sand dunes in the desert because who could vacuum?
His many toys were like an obstacle course all over the floor!

My husband was gone for long hours and when my friends visited I wondered what I was missing!

My mom was so far away and my sister called every day until it felt like she was there but she wasn't!

I was eating so much processed food, it no longer tasted like real food!

I was watching so many movies, reading so many books/magazines and doing all the crafting I never had time for before!

I was getting so much sleep!

I don't even think my doctor got the complete sentence out of his mouth at 36 weeks when I was able to resume normal activity and stop taking all of that medication. I thought for sure HMG would fall right out on our very first outing.

She didn't...though I chased her brother around and took him to all the places I felt guilty that he was missing for 6 long weeks.

Though I sat at another toddler birthday party, on another padded floor, too low to the ground for my girth, in a position I was too awkward to manage.

Though I walked the malls like someone was paying me.

Though I hoped and wished and prayed.

Though I was crabby, sore, exhausted and all the things that make our final days of pregnancy
so special.

HMG was coming on time--just not my time.

Finally, I gave up. I would be pregnant forever.

What a joke! I had spent 6 weeks fearing I had taken too long to make a sandwich, because now I was contracting too much so we were at the doctor's office AGAIN being monitored to see if today was weeks too early for a baby.

Yet after doing all of that and more....no baby.

Four days after my due date, I was on my way home from a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. banquet when I had my first REAL....
this is it....contraction! They were coming strong and hard. I knew we didn't have much time because I remembered those kind of contractions from my last delivery.

We dropped our son off with close friends and flew to the hospital.

My husband and I had trained hard and even taken classes to have an all natural, unmedicated birth. We had chosen the Bradley Method and were all set to deliver HMG at a birth center attached to one of the biggest teaching hospitals in town. We were doing everything we had learned and it was working.

Within 2 hours of arriving at the hospital, I was fully dilated and ready to push HMG into the world. My husband gave me a high five, we were soooooooo excited.

We were disappointed that my doctor wasn't there. His back up was on the way but wouldn't make it in time. I was at the mercy of the attending physician.

My scene wasn't any different from what you see on TV with the nurses shouting at you to push and your happy but anxious husband trying to help but knowing there's not much more he can do.


I thought I was doing a really good job, but suddenly, the monitors went crazy! The nurses stopped smiling and the doctor started barking orders.

Nobody told me anything.

The next thing I knew, they were flipping me over and ordering me to stay on all fours. The doctor used his hand to hold HMG in place. She wasn't far down enough to come out but she was moving down. My body was pushing her down, but the doctor was holding her up. The monitor was screaming and we were all running.

Well, they were running and pushing my bed out of the birth center and into the hospital.

Destination: SURGERY.

I was screaming. The pain was horrific. I had asked for no pain medication. It would have been OK had things progressed naturally, but what the doctor was doing was NOT NATURAL!

The doctor barked, "Why are you screaming? Bet you won't do this again."


I remember gasping the brief prayer,
I don't think I can take anymore.

I didn't have to because the moment we reached the operating room, they put me under.

I woke up to my husband's happy and excited face. He kept shoving a polaroid under my nose, covering my face with sloppy kisses, and yelling
she knew my voice!

The drugs made me so groggy. I was in out. I was confused and scared. Where was the baby? Why was my husband showing me old pictures of our new born son? It hurt!

I finally had some clarity hours later, after a long night on a morphine drip I controlled by pressing a button if I was in pain.

It was terrible pain management. I don't know what was going on with that hospital. A couple of the Percocets they sent me home with, would have done the job much better. I know that now.

They had all these rules about what my body needed to be able to do before I could see the baby. I was frantic to pass all of their tests. I had an irrational fear that there was something wrong that no one was telling me, though my husband assured me repeatedly that HMG was doing well.

The attending visited me and apologized profusely about his inappropriate remarks and the scarring I'd have because of his hack job attempt at an emergency c-section. He also apologized for his attitude toward me.

"You look young," He said, "Like all those teens who keep coming back for more. I keep hoping the bad experience will keep them away."


Um...I was 27 years old...but either way I was having some serious problems with what he was saying. Seriously?

I forgave him, but maybe I should have sued.

When my doctor FINALLY showed up, he cut through all of the red tape and walked me through the hospital himself to see HMG for the first time.

She was in the Neonatal ICU in an incubator. They were monitoring her closely because her breathing was super fast from a small amount of fluid in her lungs. I couldn't nurse her until her breathing slowed to their satisfaction, but was free to hold her as much as I liked. HMG was huge compared to the others and perfectly formed.

I cried for the joy of seeing her, and shook all over at the evidence of our near miss.

I was so grateful.

I still am.

She was so beautiful.

At 13, she still is.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Potty Training: What I've learned after doing it 5 times!

Mocha Baby is potty trained!

Be sure to watch my YouTube video above on the subject. I won't repeat in detail what I shared there, but wanted to focus on my step by step approach of getting Mocha Baby to understand the steps.

In the past, I followed the model from the book Potty Training in Less than a Day by Nathan H. Azrin and Richard M. Foxx.

When I bought the book for training our son, I imagined he'd be a master at going potty and never have any accidents once we were done. Despite the clever title, the book lets the reader know up front that accidents will happen, but it does a good job of laying out a step by step method of communicating to your child what is expected and helping parents to have realistic expectations of what their child may be able to do. I still recommend it.

In following that book, we would set aside a day for potty training and select one parent to stay with the potty training child while the other parents leaves the house with the siblings for as long as it takes. We also got friends and grandparents to agree to be ready to offer praise by phone when we called them about a success with the potty training child. We followed the process exactly--complete with doll that wets, and massive amounts of snacks and drinks.

It worked well for us. Each child we used it with grasped what they needed to do and we were happy to have a model to follow when accidents happened later.

I just didn't have it in me to pull out the book again for Mocha Baby.

I was in no hurry to potty train.

Diapers were working fine for me.

Mocha Baby had other ideas. She started to talk about the potty a lot! She wanted to go like her sisters. She wanted to be a big girl. I ignored her, because I loved the fact that she was still my baby. I don't like potty training. I had made many mistakes with her siblings and wasn't ready to stumble around again. I wasn't ready for the accidents.

When your child is ready, she's ready! I had to listen when Mocha Baby started taking off her diapers and pants. When I found her sitting on my couch with her naked bottom I realized I had to take action. Accidents were happening anyway.

I was still not interested in the potty training book, we couldn't find it anywhere and we no longer had a doll that wets. I still remembered the basics of the approach and decided to make some changes.

1. I sent my husband out to Walmart for Pull Ups and 2 big packs of pretty panties. We decided we would let her wear the panties in the house and use Pull Ups when we leave the house and diapers at bed time.

2. While my husband was gone I washed out all of my old potties and made a note to pick up one more. I wanted to be able to put a potty on every level of the house.

*The best potty I've ever purchased is the Fisher Price potty. I got it from Target for $12. Watch my YouTube video above, for details.

3. I stood Mocha baby up in front of me and asked her to show me that she could pull her pants up and pull them down on her own. Then we worked on pulling the pants up by themselves and then the panties. Finally she practiced pulling the panties up first and then the pants.

4. I prepared myself to let her be in control of her own body. I would lead, guide and direct but I told myself I can't make her do anything.

5. I told Mocha Baby I had to go potty and she could come too if she wanted. Here's where I moved in a different direction from the book. According to the book, we would use the doll to demonstrate what needed to be done. I used myself and modeled for Mocha Baby what was expected. If you are working with a boy, or feel uncomfortable about your child seeing your body then you may want to GET THE DOLL THAT WETS and model the following with the doll:

I said something like now I'm sitting on the potty, I'm going to pee, can you hear it? Good! Are you peeing? (She may say yes whether or not anything is going in the potty...I'm only concerned about her registering the steps). Good! (I say good a lot because she likes to be praised.) Then I say, "now we wipe." I stand up and have her put her soiled paper in the toilet. Good! "Now we pull up our panties." (I keep it simple by just letting her wear only panties at first--no pants/skirt. I make sure her shirt is not too long so it won't get in the way of her sitting and using the potty). Good! "Now we dump!" (This is where I steel my nerves and let her do it herself if she shows any resistance to me holding the potty with her. I can always clean up later.) Good! "Now we flush!" I let her flush. "Now we wash our hands!" (I train her to allow me to squirt some soap in her hands and I keep the soap out of her reach. Mocha Baby loves to play with soap. Here is where discipline is an issue. She listens to me because I have trained her to listen. She is in control of her body but I am in control of what happens with the soap.) Good! "Let's dry our hands!"

We walk out of the bathroom together.

6. I call the above a successful trial whether she actually released anything into the potty or not--because that will come. The final step is PRAISE! I praise her profusely for following all of my steps and doing such a good job and being such a big girl. If you are doing a good job of praise, your child will be beaming and looking forward to trying it all again. After I praise my child, I tell Daddy about it. If he's not home we call him so that HE can make a big deal about it. Then we tell all the siblings and they get really excited about it!

7. After that I allow Mocha Baby to practice as much as she likes. I keep an eye on her but let her wash her hands over and over etc. This part is tough but I've learned that if I just leave the child alone he/she will get the practice they need and tire of playing potty. However, they will be ready to do the steps when necessary.

I tell myself there will be accidents and quickly clean them up while telling Mocha Baby in a "matter of fact" tone (never angry) that she had an accident. I point out she should stop and go potty quickly. "Where do we pee?" I wait for her to repeat the right answer. "Where should we make a stinky?" When she answers correctly I praise her. Good! I ask if she would like to try to go potty now. She will usually say yes. If she doesn't I leave her alone. I clean her off and Mocha Baby is especially happy when I offer her a clean pair of pretty panties and pants/skirt. Again, I don't become angry, yell or spank my child for having an accident. We are learning and mistakes are part of the process. If your child is rebelling and clearly having accidents on purpose to provoke you--you may be dealing with a broader issue involving discipline. You will need to take steps outside of potty training to improve the discipline situation.

Until my child is a master at using the potty I clothe her in simple pants and tops that stay out of the way when she is going through her pottying steps. I stay away from long shirts which could dangle in the potty or dresses which would be a challenge to maneuver. I also stay away from tights which could be difficult to push down or pull back up. I want to cause my child as little frustration as possible.

Within 2 days Mocha Baby was having few if any accidents. She'd go the entire day with the same pair of panties I offered her in the morning. We couldn't believe it! If she has an accident we take care of it quickly with very little drama.

Don't be discouraged if it takes your child longer than it did for Mocha Baby. Potty training is a process and if we keep repeating the above steps until the child is proficient, the process becomes such a part of our lifestyle that it stops being mechanical.

I also encourage Mocha Baby's father and siblings to partner with me in praising her, the girls will allow her to join them in the bathroom if she likes, and everyone knows that Mocha Baby is in control of her own body. Messes happen and we can clean them up later.

It's been working really well.