Monday, August 30, 2010

Intact Penis Information

I have many friends who have intact sons, so I've been inundated with information about the proper care and expectations of intact penises, despite not having a son (yet?) of my own. However, despite the abundance of information available, many doctors in the US are poorly educated and give out bad information because they just haven't seen that many intact penises. The overall US circumcision rate is around 75%1 or so, though the latest statistic for new infants being circumcised is 33%2 (average--the south and midwest having the highest number, varying from 50% upward and the west having the lowest percentage) down from 57% in 1999. If these numbers are true, then doctors need to update their information for dealing with intact boys coming through their practices to properly answer the following questions.

So, let's start with the basics. How do you clean an intact penis?

Mis-educated doctors will answer with, "You gently retract the foreskin and wash with soap and water."

Except for the first part, that's right. You do NOT retract the foreskin--that is the boy's job when he is older, under his own initiative. However, simple soap and water, just like with a girl, is all it takes to clean it.

Next, is "ballooning" a cause for concern?

No. It's caused by the natural separation of the foreskin leaving pockets behind in which urine pools. It does come out eventually and in the meantime, urine is sterile. Apparently, some boys like to play a game that causes ballooning (which is messy but harmless). The biggest concern is that there is an obstruction to voiding, but under study, this was shown not to be so. 3 As long as there is no pain or infection, this is a normal process, particularly around the age of 3 and should go away as he gets older.

When should the skin retract?

This is the most common source of concern for parents of intact boys. The first study done on this subject only followed boys for 5 years who were forcibly retracted from infancy and thus, states that 90% of boys will retract by age 5. This study was refuted over and over and the current advice is that it will retract by puberty. Now, the misunderstanding comes with "by puberty." In fact, it is by late puberty that one should expect retraction (age 15-17, though 5% of men remain non-retractile until the early 20s when, anecdote suggests that most of the remaining men gain the ability to retract, but no studies have been done). At age 12-13 (early puberty), 40% of boys remain non-retractile.4

So, the answer is, it should retract by age 17, but a very small number of men don't retract until age 20 or later. Only the boy should retract his foreskin and he should be advised not to do so where he experiences pain. Forced retraction can cause iatrogenic phimosis,5 which causes the foreskin to be too tight to be retracted or scarring from torn adhesions that can cause the foreskin not to retract properly later and can cause severe pain when retraction occurs.

My son has been diagnosed with phimosis and I've heard that circumcision is the only treatment. Is this true?

First, there are two different kinds of phimosis. Phimosis is a condition where the foreskin either cannot retract or when it does, it chokes or creates a "waist" on the penile shaft, resulting in damage or pain. Pysiological phimosis is the natural period in which the foreskin is non-retractile. Pathological phimosis is problematic and typically caused by Lichen sclerosus, scarring caused by forcible retraction or Balanitis.

Pathological phimosis can be treated with steroid creams (4-6 weeks) 6 (note, in this study, it's stated that circumcision is mandatory following failure, but this is not so, three other, yet still surgical in two cases, options remain), balloon stretching7, dorsal slit8, preputioplasty9 and finally, circumcision, but pathological phimosis is an adult condition, typically. If the boy is experiencing issues with pain, inability to urinate or frequent infections and phimosis is diagnosed, it may be in his best interest to look begin non-surgical treatments first and if the condition persists, consider corrective surgery with circumcision as a last resort (unless he is mature enough to decide that circumcision is preferable).

So, those are the most common questions about care of the intact penis. You can do more reading here:
and here: DAC faq sheet on intact penile care

In regards to circumcised penises, US doctors are well versed and are capable of answering parent's questions and concerns about penile care. Caution needs be exercised when cleaning until it's healed and then normal washing, the same as an intact penis, is all that's needed.10

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Not all of any group are the same

You know, I hate to think that anyone I know is ignorant enough to blame all adherents of a religion for an extremist group's actions (or all members of a race for a few individual's actions), but I know a lot of different kinds of people. Now I need to rant some.

Right now, there is a hot, huge debate over building a Mosque in New York (btw, one tower has already been rebuilt and as second should be finished in 2011, as one of the tallest towers in the world, on "ground zero" and 3 more are going to be built when the economy is recovered) in place of an old Burlington Coat Factory. I personally don't care one way or another whether a worship house of any kind--church, chapel, cathedral, synagogue, mosque, mandir, temple, kingdom hall, meeting house, hof, jinja, gurdwara, etc.--is built anywhere. But I am sad at knowing that my "friends" are hateful and ignorant.

Let's look at a few things here.

1. Al-Queda is not the pope of Islamists. Their actions are not sanctioned. In fact, they are facists that are at war with other Muslims because they are violent extremists. Not saying that Islam has a clean record by any means--they have the highest number of martyrs on record and some of the worst hate crimes. But that has nothing to do with individual American Muslims.

2. Americans can't seem to tell the difference between a Muslim and a Sikh, as evidenced by the bombing of a Hindu temple and the murder of an innocent man, a Sikh, simply because they wore turbans on September 15th and 17th. So, rather than have anything behind their hate, they focus on one symbol and attack. Wow. Fred Phelps wields a cross--should I blame anyone wearing a cross for his hate? Or the Son of Sam? Jeffery Dahmer?

"On TV a woman said she had interviewed more serial killers, just after they were caught, than any other person. She said "when you ask a serial killer questions like "Why did you murder this moral, loving married person with children?" "Didn’t you think of how terrible this would be to her husband, her children, her parents?" Almost all serial killers start quoting one verse after another from the Christian Bible. This shows most serial killers had strong religious upbringing, have been studying the bible for years and were still very Christian religious when they were murdering."

3. 'Muslim organizations in the United States were swift to condemn the attacks on 9/11 and called "upon Muslim Americans to come forward with their skills and resources to help alleviate the sufferings of the affected people and their families". Top organizations include: Islamic Society of North America, American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America, and the Shari'a Scholars Association of North America. Along with massive monetary donations, many Islamic organizations launched blood drives and provided medical assistance, food, and shelter for victims.'1

4. America's hands are FAR from clean. Let's look at some numbers--The 9-11 terrorists claimed 2,995 lives. 2 million deaths were directly attributed specifically to Americans of Africans as we enslaved them. America claimed 500,000 lives through firebombs and 166,000 plus 80,000 lives through nuclear attack in Japan only 65 years ago.
How would you like to be held responsible for those lives, having had nothing to do with it?

5. Christian hands are far from clean. Let's start with the four different Inquisitions that have been held with unknown death tolls because mostly, they were kept shrouded by fear of death. The 40,000-100,000 deaths of innocent persons through witch hunts from 1480 to 1700 alone. The Crusades ring a bell? Yeah, there were at least nine of them. Ireland?
How do those lives sit on your shoulders? Do you like being held accountable for the crimes of others in your religion? Or those existing on the fringe as extremists?

6. Bigotry during and following wars is nothing new. Those claiming the side of being "against" Muslims and/or Arabs are in good company with those who hated the Japanese, Koreans, black people, British, etc. after various wars. Just in America alone, of course (not bigotry--the whole world suffers--but just talking about bigotry IN America).

7. Saying that there should be no mosque in New York is the same as saying there should be no churches, chapels or cathedrals in the United States--after all, Christians came and slaughtered the native population in the name of "civilization" and most certainly committed terrorism against the Abenaki, Algonquin, Apache, Blackfoot, Chadwickian, Cherokee, Choctaw, Comanche, Hopi, Iroquois, Lakota Sioux, Mahicans (also Mohicans), Mohave, Mohawk, Navajo, Nipmuc, Ojibwa, Paiute, Seminole, Seneca, Sioux, Mik, Wyandottes, Zuni, and Neilorw peoples, amongst others.

Lots more could be said on this, but in the end, I don't want to read any more. It's very hard, reading about these kinds of things and hate, to believe that the dirty in the ocean of humanity is only a drop. The sheer numbers of people murdered by focusing on this kind of garbage is depressing and sickening.

This country was founded by people escaping religious persecution--how would those people feel about how their descendants have continued the tradition that they attempted to end centuries ago?

Americans--it's all about us. Don't get me wrong, I love being American (and hell, I'm part Cherokee, so I'm more American than most of the people having this debate), but sometimes I see why the rest of the world is disgusted by us. People talk about 9-11 being the worst atrocity ever and while it was a horrible crime, it doesn't even compare to real atrocities.

What could be worse? It makes me sick when people seriously ask this, but they do. Since they've forgotten history, here's just a very tiny bit:

4,000 Cherokee and 2,500–6,000 Choctaw died on the Trail of Tears (that's 6,500-10,000 innocent people who died under horrible conditions). That's a small atrocity that can compare a little.

Rwanda's death toll was an estimated 800,000 people. That's a real atrocity.

The Holocaust death toll was 6 Million. (Hitler claimed that concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much to his studies of English and United States history)

30 to 60 million Africans died being enslaved from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries.

Why can't people just accept diversity? I only know one Muslim myself and he is a very nice guy who is non-violent down to his own family. Just like most American Muslims, he was horrified by 9-11 and had zero to do with it.

The point of the Mosque is NOT to worship the assholes that murdered nearly 3000 people in 2001, but to worship a religion as valid as any Christian religion and to bring a community center (a Muslim YMCA of sorts) to the area. The mosque is only a small part--the plan includes a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare services, art exhibitions, bookstore, culinary school, and a food court.

Interestingly, while the majority oppose its building, the majority also say that they have the right to do so. Many families of 9-11 victims have even said that they welcome it as "an opportunity for Muslims to demonstrate peaceful Islamic values."

Like I said, I don't really have an opinion on it being built--I see both sides of the argument. What's got me upset is the bigoted comments about Muslims in general. I hate bigotry of any kind. Blaming all Muslims for the atrocities of a few. It's tired. Can we please stop getting behind every "Let's hate these people" campaign that comes along?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Myths of BabyWise

Myths and Facts about Baby Wise:

#1. BW/GKGW is church approved: Myth! The only church that (consistently) approves of this program is the one the author founded himself. Attempts to use it in other churches have ended in excommunication from most Christian communities the Ezzos have come in contact with. They have been accused of cultish behavior (which is different from being a cult) by respected Christian authorities, from scripture twisting (analysis of scriptures referenced show a lack of context with the situation and other scriptures can actually be found to denounce many claims made within the books) to isolationism, brainwashing (GKGW users are well programed to be angry at negativity surrounding the program, to not process when presented with facts), exclusivity, authoritarianism and physical and emotional endangerment. While the program is taught from many churches nationwide, they are taught by parents, not as a part of church curriculum.

#2. BW is pro-breastfeeding. Myth! In truth, most mothers, no matter how abundant their milk starts out, under the scheduling in BW (which was originally 4 hour intervals until babies started dying under such neglect and has been edited to 2.5-3 hours in current editions) almost all mothers in the program lose supply by 5 months. Typical weaning age of a BW user is 4-6 months. Originally, the Ezzos suggested abandoning breastfeeding at 3 weeks. While there are always exceptions to any rule, the fact remains that the rule in BW is to destroy a mother's supply and starve her baby (BW is linked to FTT from starvation and dehydration).

#3. BW is not abuse. Questionable -- BW users are flagged in several CPS divisions as 'potential abusers' and a child abuse prevention council's religious task force (including evangelical Christian pastors) investigating BW programs found that they were not developmentally and age appropriate. It further concluded that the programs did not consider individual temperament, have a balance of loving guidance and discipline, or foster parental discernment.

#4. GKGW creates a harmonious home. Myth! In fact, GKGW creates a permanent struggle between parent and child. Most users describe their relationship with their children as "Adversarial." It's also been commented by many mothers that they feel no bond towards their child(ren) while using the program.

#5. GKGW is the only Christian Parenting style. Myth! Attachment Parenting, which GFI slurs on a constant basis is actually made up majority of Christians and Catholics. Dr. Sears, the original AP author, is a Christian himself and has authored a Christian Parenting book.

#6. GKGW teaches children to respect their parents. Myth! Definition of Respect: the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect. To show regard or consideration for: to respect someone's rights. To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem. The truth: most children raised under GKGW fear their parents and escape them as soon as they are old enough to go. The Ezzos have no contact with their adult children. Their youngest daughter was last quoted as saying she will not have further contact with her parents and is praying for their souls.

#7. GKGW teaches children to behave properly. Myth! In truth, one of the biggest complaints from users is that they have difficulty controlling their children in public. Anger, emotional and anxiety disorders are prevalent in children in this program as is severe depression and low self-worth, which contributes to episodes of 'acting out'. When tested, they show no ability to differentiate right from wrong without an authority figure to ask and have few to no decision-making skills.

8. Crying it Out is harmless. Myth! CIO has been proven to cause brain damage, is linked to emotional disorders (one of the first questions asked when looking into these is 'If your child was was left to cry, do you believe, that at any point he may have felt abandoned or hopeless?" It is linked to ADHD (which is a brain chemical imbalance), ADD, Attachment Disorder (which there is no cure for and causes lifelong bonding and empathy issues), certain forms of autism, depression and Abandonment complex. Also, babies that are left to CIO tend to grow to be children who cannot self-soothe and are unable to handle any change in their sleeping routine. As toddlers, they often resort to crying faster than babies who are not left to CIO and are typically harder to comfort.

9. BW babies sleep through the night. Impossible to determine. In actuality, no one can be sure. For one, many mothers have mistaken catatonic babies who are weak from hunger and crying as being asleep. For two, since BW parents aren't around their babies at night, they often aren't aware of the babies waking and lying alone in their rooms, wide awake. Also, CIO conditions you to no longer hear your baby's cries, as illustrated in this quote:

I thought T, our second child, had started sleeping through the night early--as Babywise promised and as J had done. It was only because my sister was staying with us for a few months that I found out I had become immune to his nighttime cries. I just didn't hear and register them--she occasionally woke me up to take care of the baby or would ask "Didn't you hear him crying last night?"

#10. Attachment Parenting results in unruly children running the household. Myth! In truth, children who are raised with real AP parents have boundaries and rules and respect for their parents. Ezzo seemed to confuse Attachment Parenting (which is Breastfeeding, Birth Bonding, Baby-wearing--for mother's convenience as well as baby's well-being, Bedding close to baby--again, for mother's convenience and baby's well-being, as it is shown to dramatically reduce the risk of SIDS, Belief in baby's cry as a form of communication, being prepared for birth and Balance--meaning balancing being husband and wife as well as being parents, so that no one's needs are unfulfilled) with permissive parenting (where the parents are basically absent of decision making within the family).

Quotes from GKGW moms who were either separated from their BW communities or accidentally ended up in AP communities:

"For the first time we were separated from our group of close friends who all were pro-Ezzo. We developed other close friends who seemed to be practicing "attachment parenting". At first I thought these families were ruled by their kids, but over time I noticed what trusting relationships they had and how great their kids were, without all the stress we were having, and had been through."

"At that time, I joined a mom's group and met some attachment parents. I had such a negative image of these parents in my mind because of everything Ezzo had said about their parenting philosophy. I expected their children to be holy terrors. What I found astounded me. Their children were so loving and thoughtful without even having to be prompted! They listened to their mothers and did everything that was asked of them. It wasn't a robotic obedience, either. I could tell these kids genuinely wanted to please their mothers. Moreover, their mothers seemed to enjoy them so much! I could tell that the relationship they had with their children was strong and based in trust and love. "

11. People who don't like GKGW have never read or used GKGW. Myth! In actuality, the people who speak out the strongest against BW, TW, GKGW, Prep, etc. are the parents who have used it. Contact moms, ministers, minister's wives, decade-long users, etc. They watched it rip their families apart, had children diagnosed with horrible, life-shattering disabilities, had babies nearly die, put on NG feedings, etc. Some just realized that they were miserable under the program, as much as they professed otherwise--sometimes because they believed they would be bad parents if they were unhappy with it.

12: People who don't like BW are Ezzo-bashers. Myth AND Fact! Many anti-GKGW parents actually met and liked the Ezzos themselves. It's the teachings and methods they don't agree with. While I, personally, have a problem with anyone who would endorse child-abuse and neglect on such a wide-scale as Gary Ezzo has, I am not, by far, the only opinion on this subject.

13. Couples should spend at least 15 minutes together every day conversing with each other and focusing on their relationship. Fact! This is probably the best advice in the whole system. However, it should NOT be at the expense of the children's time. They can converse while the kids are taking a bath (or while giving them the bath), before the kids get up in the morning, after they go to bed, etc. There is no reason to sacrifice your relationship with your children for your relationship with your spouse/significant other. And you don't have to do it sitting on a couch! It can even be in the car, driving to the store! It's good to acknowledge your loved ones--all of them.

So, to wrap it up, Baby Wise, Toddler Wise or Growing Kids God's Way is a dangerous system that is highly-criticized, linked to failure to thrive in infants, abuse in toddlers and children, attachment disorders, emotional disorders, lack of family bonding, resentment and fear in children; is run by a man who publishes himself, writes inaccurate information against medical advice and is probably as far from "What would Jesus do" as one can get, in this author's opinion. I don't see a man who stopped a prostitute from being stoned as being supportive of harming children or who said that the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to infants and children or who said praise could fall from those same lips would advocate someone ignoring the gifts of communication God has bestowed upon infants for a man's schedule or forsaking the instincts God gave us to care for our children.

It is unbelievable to me that there are people who believe they are doing good by their children by torturing them. Sure, they may end up with zealous children suffering from Stockholm syndrome--if they ever manage to get the random acts of kindness in, which would certainly make them feel justified, but they're just as likely raising sociopaths or people who will never be able to care for themselves from the serious trauma they've inflicted. And not realizing that neglect and abuse are neglect (Child Neglect can be defined as “the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs”) and abuse (Abuse is a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another. Battering is a behavior that physically harms, arouses fear, prevents a person from doing what he/she reasonably wishes or forces her to behave in ways he/she does not want) is just something I will never understand.

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece written using facts taken from multiple sources, stories of current and ex-GKGW/BW users (anecdotal evidence), various medical and theological studies, the Bible and Holy Scripture, Legal Definition sources,, Wikipedia (only from verified, properly referenced source material),, and and is not a substitute for medical advice, psychological evaluation, legal advice or theological counseling and is not endorsed by any entity. Originally published under the title "BabyWise: BabyLies--Proof that if Satan wrote a book and said it was Godly, people would line up to sell their souls." Taken from the quote: "[BW] is proof that if Satan wrote a book and claimed it was church approved, there are plenty of [parents] who would abuse their kids and sell their souls."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No, babies DON'T need to cry

Most people don't realize that leaving baby to "Cry it out" is doing more harm than the good that the extra bit of sleep it gives the parents could ever do. First, parents are adults--they understand why they aren't having their needs met (typically, sleep in this case), but infants are incapable of understanding complex concepts like this until 2-3 YEARS of age (at least)! A newborn is truthfully a 'blank slate' right down to their smooth, unformed brain.
People believe they're even doing GOOD for their child by forcing them to cry, alone in a crib, unknowing why they have been left. It's not human nature to leave our babies behind--before industrialized nations, we never would have done so. To do so would have meant death, very quickly, for the baby. So, a baby, when left alone, does not know what is going on. Instinctively, it cries to get attention from its parents, desperate not to be left to die.
"My baby doesn't feel abandoned!" cries the mother who uses CIO. Um, really? You're telepathic? You can experience your baby's emotions and hear his/her thoughts? Because unless all of that is true, you have no idea what it's doing to your baby. You have no idea what your baby is feeling, except by what your baby.
If YOU were left in a place that was frightening, huge, unfamiliar (it can take months for familiarity to set in, even in an adult, but particularly in a baby, who has little to no memory or ability to form memories and no ability to form permanent memory) place where you were unable to move and everything you had ever known (loud, warm, soft, close quarters where you could constantly smell your mother, were never hungry or unhappy) was suddenly ripped away and you were hungry, but unable to feed yourself or tell anyone that you're hungry in terms they can understand, or cold or scared or lying in your own filth because, since you can't move, you cannot clean the waste coming out of your body--imagine being in a hospital bed in a foreign country where everyone speaks with clicks.
How would you feel? Especially if, for the entirety of your life before, your every need was met and you had never experienced discomfort before? You knew you could rely on your mother to keep it that way and suddenly, she's gone. Maybe she reappears, but she's speaking that strange clicking language and you don't know how to get her to understand that you have needs. What's more, she doesn't seem to care! She left while you were still crying for help!
Abandonment, frustration, fear (what if they don't remember to feed you? After all, you're hungry and you have no concept of time at all--you don't know what that is!), and they don't seem to understand, because they just fed you, that you had to stop because you were tired or thought you were full, but it was just a gas bubble or the food digested just that quickly and you need more), loneliness... just a few of the feelings you might have.
That's a peek into the life of the baby left to CIO. Their first view of the world... how can that possibly be okay? If you were introduced to a country in that way, would you trust anyone there? No, you wouldn't and to say otherwise is to lie to yourself.
Science Says: Excessive Crying Could Be Harmful to Babies
Science tells us that when babies cry alone and unattended, they experience panic and anxiety. Their bodies and brains are flooded with adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones. Science has also found that when developing brain tissue is exposed to these hormones for prolonged periods these nerves won’t form connections to other nerves and will degenerate. Is it therefore possible that infants who endure many nights or weeks of crying-it-out alone are actually suffering harmful neurologic effects that may have permanent implications on the development of sections of their brain? Here is how science answers this alarming question:
Chemical and hormonal imbalances in the brain
Research has shown that infants who are routinely separated from parents in a stressful way have abnormally high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as lower growth hormone levels. These imbalances inhibit the development of nerve tissue in the brain, suppress growth, and depress the immune system.
Researchers at Yale University and Harvard Medical School found that intense stress early in life can alter the brain’s neurotransmitter systems and cause structural and functional changes in regions of the brain similar to those seen in adults with depression.
One study showed infants who experienced persistent crying episodes were 10 times more likely to have ADHD as a child, along with poor school performance and antisocial behavior. The researchers concluded these findings may be due to the lack of responsive attitude of the parents toward their babies.
Dr. Bruce Perry’s research at Baylor University may explain this finding. He found when chronic stress over-stimulates an infant’s brain stem (the part of the brain that controls adrenaline release), and the portions of the brain that thrive on physical and emotional input are neglected (such as when a baby is repeatedly left to cry alone), the child will grow up with an over-active adrenaline system. Such a child will display increased aggression, impulsivity, and violence later in life because the brainstem floods the body with adrenaline and other stress hormones at inappropriate and frequent times.
Dr. Allan Schore of the UCLA School of Medicine has demonstrated that the stress hormone cortisol (which floods the brain during intense crying and other stressful events) actually destroys nerve connections in critical portions of an infant’s developing brain. In addition, when the portions of the brain responsible for attachment and emotional control are not stimulated during infancy (as may occur when a baby is repeatedly neglected) these sections of the brain will not develop. The result – a violent, impulsive, emotionally unattached child. He concludes that the sensitivity and responsiveness of a parent stimulates and shapes the nerve connections in key sections of the brain responsible for attachment and emotional well-being.
Decreased intellectual, emotional, and social development
Infant developmental specialist Dr. Michael Lewis presented research findings at an American Academy of Pediatrics meeting, concluding that “the single most important influence of a child’s intellectual development is the responsiveness of the mother to the cues of her baby.”
Researchers have found babies whose cries are usually ignored will not develop healthy intellectual and social skills.
Dr. Rao and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health showed that infants with prolonged crying (but not due to colic) in the first 3 months of life had an average IQ 9 points lower at 5 years of age. They also showed poor fine motor development.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State and Arizona State Universities found that infants with excessive crying during the early months showed more difficulty controlling their emotions and became even fussier when parents tried to consol them at 10 months.
Other research has shown that these babies have a more annoying quality to their cry, are more clingy during the day, and take longer to become independent as children.
Harmful physiologic changes
Animal and human research has shown when separated from parents, infants and children show unstable temperatures, heart arrhythmias, and decreased REM sleep (the stage of sleep that promotes brain development).1
There is a four-year period of "potential" growth, which is the most critical period of human development. This time is from conception until about the third birthday. During this time, all things are possible - learning to walk, learning to talk, learning how to "fit in" to society. There is a need for many experiences in order to master skills. (Families and Work Institute, 1996). Maria Montessori, years ago, called this time that of the ABSORBENT MIND (La Mente del Bambino). Her conclusions were similar to what scientists are finding today. (Montessori, 1953).2
We live in an age where we can know that the baby is safe in another room, despite the loudness of his cries. Does this mean we should leave babies to cry on their own? CIO proponents often advise that babies left to cry will eventually stop, and the duration of future crying bouts will decrease. What are the emotional consequences of crying for the infant when she is left unattended? Bowlby and colleagues initiated a series of studies where children between the ages of one and two who had good relationships with their mothers were separated from them and left to cry it out. Results showed a predictable sequence of behaviours: The first phase, labeled “protest”, consists of loud crying and extreme restlessness. The second phase, labeled “despair”, consists of monotonous crying, inactivity, and steady withdrawal. The third phase, labeled “detachment”, consists of a renewed interest in surroundings, albeit a remote, distant kind of interest. Thus, it appears that while leaving babies to cry it out can lead to the eventual dissipation of those cries, it also appears that this occurs due to the gradual development of apathy in the child. The child stops crying because she learns that she can no longer hope for the caregiver to provide comfort, not because her distress has been alleviated.
Do babies cry more when they are attended to? A 1986 study concluded just the opposite: the more a mother holds and carries her baby, the less the baby will cry and fuss. Cross-cultural studies also show that parents in non-Western societies are quicker than parents in Western societies to respond to their crying babies, and babies in non-Western societies cry for shorter spans of time. Caregivers in 78% of the world’s cultures respond quickly to an infant’s cries.3
Similar social learning opportunities occur when an infant attempts to communicate through its cries. Crying may be spurred because the infant is hungry, in pain, uncomfortable or frightened. Often upon waking, an infant will begin to signal to its caregiver with soft whimpering, which eventually accelerates into frantic crying if it receives no response.
Sometimes crying is misconstrued as an idealized expression of anger or manipulation. Yet, such distressed crying in a young infant might better be described as a fear response. A fear invoked by the uncomfortable feeling of being soiled, the rumbling of stomach pains, or the vulnerableness of being alone in the dark.
Fear of predators and death is an emotion deeply seated within our evolutionary biological makeup. In our earliest days, families and tribes huddled closely together in the dark to help soothe this fear. The idea of "safety in numbers" held true, because a larger group of humans would fair better warding off predators as a small group or sole individual would.
Today, we as parents may know that an infant is safe alone in its crib. However, the biology of an infant's brain is initially encoded with innate fear responses, which are easily prompted often in early life.
When the infant is in a state of helpless fear and panic the amygdala kicks in and sends messages to the brain to prepare the body for "flight or fight." An infant can neither fight nor flee. If the panic isn't subdued by intervention from a nurturing adult, the flood of chemicals and hormones may rage through the brain, specifically targeting the amygdala and hippocamus, for an unhealthy length of time.
Crying infants who are unattended have been known to cry desperately for an hour or more until the amygdala eventually shuts down. The infant in turn, learns after repeated episodes that it can not expect comfort and response to its cries, and it may decide its needs are unworthy of attention and nurturing--a decision which may ultimately affect the infant's development of self-worth and connectedness to the world.
Even though the brain may eventually determine it is not in any danger on its own, vital opportunities to develop and reinforce social lessons in trust, security and empathy may be missed if no attempt is made by a nurturing caregiver to calm that state of emotional turmoil.4
Originally Published Feb 13, 2008 at 3:04 PM

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Discipline Without Violence

Things to do Instead of Hitting

Research confirms what many parents instinctively feel when they don't like to spank their child, but they don't know what else to do. The latest research from Dr. Murray Strauss at the Family Research Laboratory affirms that spanking teaches children to use acts of aggression and violence to solve their problems. It only teaches and perpetuates more violence, the very thing our society is so concerned about. This research further shows that children who have been spanked are more prone to low self-esteem, depression and accept lower paying jobs as adults. So, what do you do instead?

1 - Get Calm

First, if you feel angry and out of control and you want to spank or slap your child, leave the situation if you can. Calm down and get quiet. In that quiet time you will often find an alternative or solution to the problem. Sometimes parents lose it because they are under a lot of stress. Dinner is boiling over, the kids are fighting, the phone is ringing and your child drops the can of peas and you lose it. If you can't leave the situation, then mentally step back and count to ten.

2 - Take Time for Yourself

Parents are more prone to use spanking when they haven't had any time to themselves and they feel depleted and hurried. So, it is important for parents to take some time for themselves to exercise, read, take a walk or pray.

3 - Be Kind but Firm

Another frustrating situation where parents tend to spank is when your child hasn't listened to your repeated requests to behave. Finally, you spank to get your child to act appropriately. Another solution in these situations is to get down on your child's level, make eye contact, touch him gently and tell him, in a short, kind but firm phrase, what it is you want him to do. For example, "I want you to play quietly.

4 - Give Choices

Giving your child a choice is an effective alternative to spanking. If she is playing with her food at the table ask, Would you like to stop playing with your food or would you like to leave the table?" If the child continues to play with her food, you use kind but firm action by helping her down from the table. Then tell her that she can return to the table when she is ready to eat her food without playing in it.

5 - Use Logical Consequences

Consequences that are logically related to the behavior help teach children responsibility. For example, your child breaks a neighbor's window and you punish him by spanking him. What does he learn about the situation? He may learn to never do that again, but he also learns that he needs to hide his mistakes, blame it on someone else, lie, or simply not get caught. He may decide that he is bad or feel anger and revenge toward the parent who spanked him. When you spank a child, he may behave because he is afraid to get hit again. However, do you want your child to behave because he is afraid of you or because he respects you?

Compare that situation to a child who breaks a neighbor's window and his parent says, "I see you've broken the window, what will you do to repair it?" using a kind but firm tone of voice. The child decides to mow the neighbor's lawn and wash his car several times to repay the cost of breaking the window. What does the child learn in this situation? That mistakes are an inevitable part of life and it isn't so important that he made the mistake but that he takes responsibilty to repair the mistake. The focus is taken off the mistake and put on taking responsibility for repairing it. The child feels no anger or revenge toward his parent. And most importantly the child's self-esteem is not damaged.

6 - Do Make Ups

When children break agreements, parents tend to want to punish them An alternative is to have your child do a make-up. A make-up is something that people do to put themselves back into integrity with the person they broke the agreement with. For example, several boys were at a sleep-over at Larry's home. His father requested that they not leave the house after midnight. The boys broke their agreement. The father was angry and punished them by telling them they couldn't have a sleep-over for two months. Larry and his friends became angry, sullen and uncooperative as a result of the punishment. The father realized what he had done. He apologized for punishing them and told them how betrayed he felt and discussed the importance of keeping their word. He then asked the boys for a make-up. They decided to cut the lumber that the father needed to have cut in their backyard. The boys became excited and enthusiastic about the project and later kept their word on future sleep-overs.

7 - Withdraw from Conflict

Children who sass back at parents may provoke a parent to slap. In this situation, it is best if you withdraw from the situation immediately. Do not leave the room in anger or defeat. Calmly say, "I'll be in the next room when you want to talk more respectfully.

8 - Use kind but firm action

Instead of smacking an infant's hand or bottom when she touches something she isn't supposed to, kindly but firmly pick her up and take her to the next room. Offer her a toy or another item to distract her and say, "You can try again later." You may have to take her out several times if she is persistent.

9 - Inform Children Ahead of Time

A child's temper tantrum can easily set a parent off. Children frequently throw tantrums when they feel uninformed or powerless in a situation. Instead of telling your child he has to leave his friend's house at a moment's notice, tell him that you will be leaving in five minutes. This allows the child to complete what he was in the process of doing.

10 - Give Time-Ins

Be generous with your hugs. Sit close to your child while reading or coloring together. Tell your child how glad you are that he’s in the family … how well he shared … how hard he worked on something. Praise his efforts and tell him that you love him. Set aside “special time” for your child and make the most of it. Hang out without making demands or giving advice. Let your child choose an activity for you to do together: play catch, take a walk, play board games, go window shopping, bake cookies. These bits and pieces of time are often what children remember most.

Aggression is an obvious form of perpetuating violence in society. A more subtle form of this is spanking because it takes it's toll on a child's self-esteem, dampening his enthusiasm and causing him to be rebellious and uncooperative. Consider for a moment the vision of a family that knows how to win cooperation and creatively solve their problems without using force or violence. The alternatives are limitless and the results are calmer parents who feel more supported.

Article Copyright © 1995 INCAF

Annoyed at genital inaccuracies

Originally written May 5, 2008 at 9:46 PM.

How many people are so immature that they can't say the names of their own genitalia? Seriously? The one that is setting me off is va-jayjay. That is the stupidest, beyond ignorant, childish, uneducated and low class crap word for the vagina I've heard. Why? Number one, there is NO FUCKING J IN VAGINA. At least say va-gigi (pronounce it va jee jee, but use the right damn letter). The female genitalia is properly called the vulva. Ask a nurse and she'll call it a hooha, but she's also talking about your 'hooha' behind your back to her friends and wailing about it being in her face as you're giving birth (in case you can't tell, one of my friends is a nurse who is doing an OB rotation who does NOT want to be an OB nurse).

And your son doesn't have a "wiener" (or a misspelling of the word, such as weaner) or a "thing"
or a "ding-dong" or any other way you want to avoid "penis" by using food words or making his genitals sound like some kind of monster/object. His penis is not dirty, it does not cause him to behave differently than a girl until he's MUCH older and unless you TEACH him to be a stereotype, he won't become one. Though he might not become one just to spite you.

Boys and girls both masturbate. Deal with it. Girls typically start masturbating at an earlier age and can achieve orgasm years before boys can. It's healthy for both genders. 60% of women cannot achieve orgasm any other way.

The only difference between male and female circumcision is that most women cannot achieve orgasm after one (of 2 of the 3 types), but men usually can (not always). The same propaganda is spread about both procedures and is equally untrue for boys as it is for girls. Religious circumcision was originally only a tiny cut into the foreskin for the purpose of drawing blood as a sacrifice and the scar to mark that Moses' law was followed. No two penises look exactly alike, ever. 85% of the male population of the world is intact, not circumcised. Most other countries think Americans are barbarians and butchers for this practice, just as we look at female circumcision as atrocious.

So, in closing, if you're going to make a cute nickname for your genitals, at least make it appropriate. Your clitoris is not a part of your vagina, it's a part of your vulva, as is your vagina, which only refers to the hole where sperm goes in and babies come out. If you're going to avoid penis, at least use peepee, as it at least teaches the right letter and refers to its function.

If you can have sex, you can refer to reproductive organs by their proper names, learn how they function and at least know how to spell them. Please make me think that at least a few people have a better than third grade education.

This journal brought to you by the hormone progesterone. Growing babies since the beginning of time and causing pregnant women to find inconsequential things unbearably annoying.

The Manipulation Myth

First, let's sort this out. This is manipulation:

This is not manipulation:

Again, this is manipulation:

The reason that manipulation works is because the end result is something that is mutually beneficial, in most cases. What is offensive about children's manipulation isn't the end result, but the way it was achieved. In the above comics, Calvin's dad isn't going to be sorry that he gave Calvin the pony ride or told him a story, he really will be glad to have spent that time. But the way Calvin achieves it leaves much to be desired. If a child needs to learn to manipulate, then in most cases, some need isn't being met (sometimes, a manipulative parent is the behavioral model instead). Some are more obvious than others--a child manipulating for a toy, for example, may not have a clear motive other than wanting that toy. But that they feel manipulation is the only way to achieve getting that toy is indicative of a communications problem in the home (all relationships require two-way communication--romantic, platonic and familial--to function properly).

An infant is totally incapable of this thought process. What they are capable of is learning to decipher what their body is telling them and attempting to communicate that to their parents (through instinctive motions, signaling, and finally crying). Communication is not manipulation. That is the same as believing a child (who is not yet allowed or able to make their own food) saying "I'm hungry" is manipulative, or a spouse asking "Can you take out the trash, my hands are full?" You can choose to view any inoffensive request as manipulative, but that just creates an adversarial state in that relationship and doesn't make it any more correct.

One of the key ingredients in manipulation is empathy--the ability to understand the feelings of others. This ability is learned (or developed) somewhere between 3-4 years old, typically. Infants are incapable of any thoughts like this. The second key ingredient, cause and effect, isn't even a learned skill until 19-23 months. Sure, they get some basics, like "if I eat, my stomach stops grumbling", but more complex cause and effect like "If I do A, then B happens" (such as a jack-in-the-box) where the relationship of B to A is understood, is a toddler milestone.

Why do we fear manipulation? Because the motives behind manipulation in adults is seldom innocent or in the best interest of the manipulated party. But children are not adults, they do not think like adults, they do not have adult desires and they do not have malicious intent behind attempting to have their wants and needs fulfilled.

Infants, even more so, do not even think like children or toddlers. We are uncertain how infants think, but we are aware of their developmental capabilities. Manipulation--or the adult concept of coercion being used to force another person to do something not in their best interest--is not one of their capabilities.

So when your instincts tell you that your baby is hungry or needs you--your instincts are right. The book (or well-meaning friend/relative/acquaintance/stranger) that told you that your baby is manipulating you is wrong. It really is that black and white. With infants, there is no grey on this subject. They can only communicate to have their needs met. And studies have shown that babies who have their needs consistently met are more secure, independent, trusting, cooperative, empathetic and have a better capacity for dealing with stress as children and adults.

A couple Resources (it would take too long to list them all, so here's two key sites):
Infant and Toddler Development Milestones
(Infant) Attachment and Adult Relationships

Monday, August 9, 2010

Naomi's Birth Story

Waiting. Pregnancy includes a lot of waiting, especially if it's planned. Waiting for ovulation, waiting for a positive home test, waiting for doctor confirmation; and when you're pregnant after having lost a baby, waiting to find out if the pregnancy is viable and waiting for your loss week or weeks to pass so you can breathe easier. Then, waiting for each trimester to change, symptoms to come and go, to find out the gender if you plan to and of course, for the baby.

So it's perhaps fitting that the beginning of the end of the waiting game for me began in a waiting room. On Tuesday, I had my 39 week appointment and I was really hoping for it to be my last. The doctor was in surgery, so we were waiting quite a while, chatting with other waiting patients and sitting in the chairs, I started contracting a lot.

I didn't time them, but I knew they were frequent. They were also uncomfortable and I kept wanting to turn around in the chair and kneel on the floor so I could rest my upper body in it, but I knew that would alarm the other patients, so I just dealt with it as they got more intense. I closed my eyes and breathed.

When the doctor came into the exam room, I was taking advantage of the exam table to do just what I wanted with the chair and he wanted to check me. I declined, saying "If you check me, I won't be in labor and that would just be very frustrating." We also explained that we'd left the labor stuff at home anyway, so we'd be back if this was it and if it wasn't, then hopefully it would be soon. He reminded us to call, since he had babies coming at both hospitals he delivered at.

Those contractions would continue to build for seven and a half hours before petering out, much to my disappointment. My husband still took that day off work and we got things ready to go, because if it wasn't soon, I was at least due on Friday, so things should just be ready by then, at least. I also did laundry and some shopping, staying active and trying to keep the contractions going and get labor on the move. So I was pretty tired when they stopped and went to bed early.

I woke up on New Year's Eve the next morning at 9:30-ish and realized it was contractions that woke me up. When I decided they weren't going to go away, I went out to the living room to watch a movie and ignore them to see if they went away. They were too hard to ignore, so eventually, I started writing down times since I could see a clock. A pattern was obvious--every two minutes a new one started. Sometimes it was three and a few times it was five minutes. I got bored with writing down times after about two hours, especially when the cable stopped working so I couldn't watch my movie anymore.

I wandered around the house and told my husband that he should still go to work, to make up for some of the time he'd lost, even if this was it (which I was fairly certain it was). I got to finish my movie and then went in to take a nap since I was tired from all the contracting and waking up early. I forced down some soup first, but food and water were not something I was processing well, so I didn't push it.

Lilly let me nap until the contractions woke me up in pain. I started doing my visualizations and distraction techniques for a while and even tried to read. But the intensity was getting harder to do anything through, so I gave up on the book and got up to do stuff around the house until I realized that nothing was going to get done but a bunch of labor dancing and that was getting too painful to do, even, so I drew a bath.

The water was the relief I'd hoped for, but not as long as I'd hoped. It was all I could do not to call my husband until his lunch break. I debated on the phone on whether he should come home or not--I was having a hard time concentrating at all. Finally, I said I was tired of doing this alone and wanted him home at least for his lunch break to give me a break from Lilly and some support.

By the time he got home, I couldn't visualize anything anymore, I couldn't just breathe through the contractions and it was all I could do to remember to keep my sounds deep and low to be productive. I was sure that it was time, I could feel the baby low in my pelvis and the contractions were so strong they were intolerable. My mind was desperately seeing relief options, so we were pretty sure I was in transition--it certainly sounded like it and I felt like I did when I was ready to push out Lilly.

So my husband called in to work and we set out to go to the hospital. We took our time getting ready, making sure everything was dealt with around the house, but I was getting desperate for relief and the thought of being in the car like I was, when I couldn't take a contraction quietly anymore, was very unpleasant. Somehow, I managed to stay quiet on the ride through most of the contractions, but I felt like I was going to pass out from the pain.

Once at the hospital, it was time for my first check. I no longer planned to avoid all checks because I needed to know that all of this had amounted to something. It seemed to take them forever to get to checking me and I was in a lot of pain. The check, however, was not what I wanted to hear.

"You're at a three and about sixty percent." I started crying and felt on the edge of hysteria. My mind was so jumbled and thick that I couldn't focus on anything and each contraction felt like it was taking me by surprise, I had no relief between them and I was mentally begging them to stop. They were saying they needed to watch to see if I was really in labor and then my water broke.

"My water broke, my water broke," I said, feeling very happy about that. "You can't take it back, I'm in labor, it's not stopping now!" Of course, with my water breaking, the contractions became even more intense. My husband laughed that I'd managed not to get the house or the van with my water, again. We checked the water and I asked if it was clear--it wasn't. Sludge, again.

It wasn't as bad as Lilly's at first, but it got worse and worse with each gush. I was surprising the nurses with how much was in there. I'd tell them that the water was coming and they'd smile and look and never expected how much had come out. I told them a few times that it was the same with my last labor, too--more water than I could possibly have ever held.

I was doing okay here and there, but things were so bad I asked for an epidural because I couldn't keep going. They said I had to have a bag of fluid in me first, especially since I hadn't been eating or drinking all day and it took two nurses to start an IV because I was so dehydrated they couldn't get access to any veins. The first stick was terrible and totally fruitless. The next was painful, but successful. They also had to take blood (which they did with the second try) to make sure that I was healthy enough for the epidural that I both wanted and unknowingly at the time, needed.

The nurses kept trying to get me to get up and move around, but when I tried, I felt so sick I just wanted to lie down and so I did, knowing that it was the worst thing I could do. When I was up, I did dance around and do what I knew worked best, but I couldn't stand it for more than a few minutes at a time, then I wanted back in bed. I had been in painful labor for nine or ten hours after the five hours of easier labor in the morning, and I just wanted to be done.

The pain of the contractions were hurting both me and the baby, as she was going into distress and after a couple hours they brought me Nubain to take the edge off until I was approved for the epidural and the anesthesiologist could come. I asked if it would help and the nurse said that, at the least, I'd be calmer and back in control of the pain, so I readily agreed. Anything that would make me stop feeling insane.

The nice thing about IV meds is that you know how you're affected instantly. I was dizzy and the stuff smelled funny (I always smell IV stuff--I'd known the second they started the antibiotics that I decided to go with since I was accepting so many other interventions anyway--and they weren't giving me the same thing I'd had in my last labor--by the smell) and then this calm came over me that was priceless.

The next contractions, I was able to visualize, chant and sing at the baby. They hurt, a lot, but the pain was controllable again. I felt so much better that I even went to sleep. Unfortunately, I woke up when the Nubain wore off and was back where I'd been before.

The second check had shown me at a two to three (I'd lost progress?), the third at a four. Each check found me making progress at least, but it was slow. Finally, I was approved for the epidural I'd never thought I'd want and the anesthesiologist came in after the nurses prepped me for being still through all of the process. While the contractions continued to be hard and painful, I was still in better control than I had been earlier and I concentrated on singing through them. I found that "Oh I wish I was a fishie in the sea" was just the right length, with two verses, to get me through them. Everyone thought it was funny and the laughter was a relief with the tension all the pain had put me through.

The nurses kept telling me how great I was doing and encouraging me and were surprised to find out that I'd wanted no pain meds previously. I explained that my last labor had been nothing like this. Of course, Lilly had only been posterior--this baby's head was transverse and moving around, hurting me far more than Lilly ever could, since she never descended into my pelvis this far. Everything felt far away, though, and slightly foggy--more like I was watching than participating, much as it had been through my labor for hours now. I felt like someone else was in control of my body before and after the Nubain and I didn't recognize myself at all, which upset me even more.

Finally, there was burning in my spine and I knew that I only had to feel fifteen to twenty-five minutes more of these awful contractions and it made getting through them a lot easier.

The doctor came in a little later, after I'd had some rest and felt better and told me to labor on my side (which I did--I was even able to roll myself there as the epidural had left me still in enough control of my legs to move myself around and I could now feel baby moving instead of the pain of contractions, which was much improved) and then was gone.

My next check I was told that I was progressing and the head was transverse. The nurse said my position was good and helped me get my legs in the most productive position to move baby down. As baby moved lower, I rolled more and kept adjusting myself to keep her from backing into my ribs again (which drove me nuts with both my labors) and the nurse told me that I was looking great each time she saw me. It really helped keep my spirits up, since I felt bad about wanting the epidural in the first place and really didn't want to mess things up worse.

It was the middle of the night, so I was trying to help Lilly get to sleep and get some of my own when the nurse asked me why I wasn't just nursing her. I said I was worried about the drugs I'd had and she said it was fine, just get that baby in bed and let her nurse and snuggle to sleep. So I did and she came back later after Lilly had fallen asleep and said that the nursing had really improved my contractions and we talked about cosleeping--she apparently coslept with her kids, too, and just how great it was.

With Lilly next to me, I fell asleep easily and woke up for the nurse to come in and say that my contractions were spacing out more and more and the doctor wanted pitocin started. I asked if he was concerned about the increased risk with it and if he did it often and then just told her to go with it when she tried to explain--I'd decided before that I'd do what it took to have a vaginal birth, even with added risk like pitocin, if necessary. Besides, I had the epidural and I knew how pitocin affected my contractions from my last birth. My husband was asleep through all of this, as was Lilly.

I fell asleep thinking about the intervention domino effect and hoping I wasn't going to pay for it. My eye was only on the prize--my VBAC. I slept until they checked me and I was a seven to eight. I lied awake, bored and wanting someone to talk to until the contractions got really close together again and I started moaning a little because I was getting overwhelmed with the urge to go to the bathroom. I knew what the urge meant and I let my body do what it wanted with it and pushed a bit.

My husband woke up and said my name questioningly and I told him that the baby would be there soon and asked him to get me some ice water and take my popsicle stick from the orange popsicle that I'd been given when I complained about being hungry at my last check (first time I'd been hungry in over 24 hours). I caught him up on what he'd missed and had him move Lilly to the guest couch-bed so I could roll over even more.

I felt bad about him only getting five hours of sleep, but since I'd only had three, I didn't feel too bad. I wasn't tired at all, though and kept joking about how bad I needed to go to the bathroom. The nurse came in to check me because my contractions were happening every one to two minutes and she said my cervix was gone.

She started breaking down the bed and told me to roll over and I told her I didn't want to be in the stirrups and that I couldn't, because of the symphysis pubis dysfunction. She ignored me and pestered me into them anyway. Annoyed, I at least got the bed into a chair position so I didn't have to do sit-ups to push.

I felt the baby's head turn and it was slightly painful, but a fascinating sensation to me, since she was in my pelvis--somewhere Lilly had never made it to. She was wriggling down my bones between contractions, when I would be pushing with all my strength, to my relief. I had previously not wanted to 'purple push', but it felt so good to do it, unlike with Lilly, that I didn't mind. I didn't even mind the position as it felt easier to push than it had when I was on my side.

I asked if my pushing was doing anything and the nurse brightly encouraged me and started giving me progress reports about how close the head was getting, how baby had moved down past a zero, etc. I asked if it was close enough for me to feel the head and she said that it wasn't yet.

I kept pushing, still worried that it would end just like with Lilly, even though it was already much further than I'd ever got with her and everyone was encouraging me, telling me that I was doing great--the opposite of what I was told with Lilly. Then the nurse told me to reach down and I felt my baby's head for the first time--the first person to touch her without any barrier. It was amazing, soft and hot and alive and I made a bunch of comments that were too sappy and ecstatic.

Baby was almost here and the doctor, true to himself, was late. I don't think he realized how fast I was going to go with that last little boost and the nurse told me to just relax and stop pushing, let my body do the work. It was interesting feeling my body pushing on its own and the baby coming down even more and wiggling painfully. I told them my birth plan--what could be salvaged still, that is, and they told me hospital policy. I said that all I wanted was to do as much as I could without interfering with baby's health (the meconium sludge meant that baby's hair was green) and explained that I'd missed the first hour of Lilly's life and how important it was to me to participate in this birth and be the first one to hold my baby, etc.

They relayed all this information to the doctor when he came in (finally--the head was almost out) and he started to repeat them and I quickly just explained that I understood all that and reiterated my reasons and that I just wanted to do whatever could be done on me and asked him to help me to catch her, so that I was the one pulling her onto me.

My husband, who had been so wary of the thought of all the blood and that associated with childbirth (he doesn't do well with blood) with Lilly, watched and even reached out and touched his baby's head, with fascination and enjoyment. He was clearly amazed, especially when he realized that baby was moving herself down as well.

The doctor told me that he would ask me to stop pushing once the head was out so he could start getting the meconium out and that's how it happened. I heard him say it was a nuchal cord, so I rested while she was suctioned to get the meconium out of her mouth and the cord was removed and listened to my husband going on about how much hair she had.

Then the body was just sliding out of me, no pushing at all and the doctor told me to do my part and kept her out so that I was grabbing her torso and pulling her, bottom first, to me. So I was the first one to see that we'd had a little girl and I announced it to the room.

I touched her cord and blubbered on in joy and babbled about how I'd done it, I'd had a baby, I'd pushed her out, etc. I was so amazed. They clamped her cord and I reminded my husband that he wanted to cut and he said that it was okay if he couldn't (worried he was in the way) and the doctor handed him the scissors and told him where. He cut her loose and went with her over to the warmer where they worked to clean off all the meconium so we could see what color she actually was, weigh her, et cetera. During this, the cell phone rang, playing "Big Bang Theory" by Barenaked Ladies to the room--so Naomi came in with a big bang.

I watched them and reminded my husband to take more pictures while the placenta slipped out and the doctor showed it to me, told me which side was which and then he checked my scar, which was thin but fine and then started doing damage control. When baby was turning around so much in me, she tore my cervix and, as I expected with my body and all the pushing, I'd torn my perineum as well, third degree. The doctor debated calling it between second and third the whole time he was stitching it up (unfortunately, my epidural chose then to start wearing it off and I got to feel five or six of the stitches entirely).

While I was being stitched up, my husband brought our little girl back to me. I didn't mind handing her back after a couple minutes because I wanted to rest and relax. He looked up from holding her and asked me, "How about Naomi for a first name?" I looked at her and agreed, she looked like a Naomi. It was one of the middle names we'd been tossing around, having been debating on a girl name for months.

Lilly slept through the whole thing, eliciting comments about how she could sleep through anything (which is quite true) and was surprised and fascinated when she woke up and found that the baby I'd kept telling her was coming was actually there. She seems to like being a big sister (although not sharing her stuff--she's been quite irked with that).

So, at thirty-nine weeks and six days, my waiting was over. I had my VBAC successfully and I met my little girl, Naomi Sara, at 8:19 a.m. on New Year's Day, 2009. She weighed in at eight pounds and seven-point-seven ounces and was twenty-one inches tall. She was basically the same weight as her sister, but over an inch taller and with a visibly smaller head (but she wears preemie clothes). It was the single most amazing experience of my life. It had a rough start, it wasn't my ideal labor, but the birth--nothing can ever compare to feeling a life passing into this world from my body and knowing that I brought her here.

It was worth the wait to meet her. Welcome to the world, Naomi.

This version is graphic This version is not

Lilly's Birth Story

So, here's my (graphic and long) birth story for my first baby, Lilly. It was written about a month after I gave birth and this is the version with names removed (some of my feelings have changed since then, such as knowing that the cesarean was iatrogenic, most are the same) and Lil's pronouns corrected:

At 5:30 am on Saturday morning, October 14, 2006, I woke up after two hours of restless sleep. Contractions had pulled me into consciousness and I tried in vain to roll over and get back to sleep for a half hour before their intensity and frequency caused me to start moaning in frustration. I was sure that they were false labor contractions, yet again, or perhaps just revenge from the Mexican dinner I had the night before. I curled up onto my hands and knees for a little while, then got up to whine around the house because I was tired of looking over at the clock ever four minutes to time them. It was actually the first time I'd actively timed my contractions from the onset.
I sat on my labor ball and went online to whine some more and express my frustration and fears until I couldn't think through the pain anymore and went back to bed. My whimpering and moaning woke hubby up at about 10 am and I asked him to run me a bath. When it was ready, I happily sunk in up to my chest and marveled at how the pain vanished. Before, I was sore between every contraction that I had no relief from the pain; it was constant and intense. Now, though, the pain was not only manageable, but I was able to relax and feel good between contractions.

Things were continuing so well that hubby was getting things ready to go to the hospital and calling people to say that we were pretty certain I was actually in labor this time. I, meanwhile, moved around in the tub from a sitting position, doing butterfly exercises in the water, to lying on my tummy and floating and to an all-fours position. I got out to pee every fifteen minutes or so, but quickly hopped back in because it felt so good to be in the water.

While I labored in the tub, hubby made me food and called my doula and a few other people to let them know that I was in labor and this time, it seemed to be certainly the real thing.

At 11:15, my water broke. I felt a relieving pop and warm fluid rushing into the cooling bath water and knew what it was instantly, although I simply enjoyed the feeling for a moment, as it was wonderful. Then I looked down.

"S**t," I cursed upon seeing the yellow and green stream pouring out. I could see clearly that my water was full of meconium. "That's s**t," I said redundantly and loud enough to get hubby's attention. He quickly came and I asked him to empty the water since I needed to get out, but was in the middle of another contraction, so I couldn't safely stand, but didn't want to float in the dirty water.

I stood up and turned on the shower to clean up and the moment I turned it off, the same amount of fluid poured out of me again. So I called to hubby to get me a poise diaper and turned the shower back on. I slipped when my water poured out again as I tried to step out of the tub, but caught myself and didn't fall. I had managed to avoid getting any amniotic fluid on myself this time and quickly got into the poise before more could rush out and turned the shower on the tub to rinse it out. Hubby, upon my request, had been calling Labor and Delivery to tell them we were coming in.

Now I knew that this labor was real, I was excited and tried to go over every small detail before we left. We fed and watered all the animals and gave the kitties a can of wet food as a treat as well. I put two of the open-cage-door parrots in their cages and latched them, feeling bad about how long they would have to be in there, but satisfied that they would be safe and gave them extra toys. I had to keep going back to the bathroom to change the poise pads as what felt like gallons of water emptied from my womb.

We finally got out the door and piled everything in the van and went to the hospital, a fairly uneventful drive during which I called several people who had asked to be called when I went into labor--the ones that hubby hadn't called already, that is. It was a comforting distraction through the intense contractions.

We arrived and checked in and were set up in a room, where I changed into a hospital gown, happy to have not ruined my clothing or stained anything with the mess I could have been making everywhere. We met our nurse and then my doula arrived as I was being monitored to see how baby was doing. We went over a few things that would have to change from my birth plan due to the meconium, such as the fact that I would need to be constantly monitored. However, the pleasant surprise was that constant monitoring no longer meant being stuck in bed.

I did spend quite a bit of time in bed, as it was easiest for the monitoring and being on my back allowed me to feel the baby moving down a little. They brought in a labor ball, but I didn't get to spend much time on it as it interfered with the heartbeat monitor; which was really too bad since I felt myself making progress when I was on the ball (and it irritated me when everyone tried to adjust the monitor to hear, so I just abandoned the ball).

I was at four centimeters when I was first checked and five during the next. It made it look very promising to be a quick birth. I realized I was staying the bed too much and decided to try dancing/swaying, so I got out Deftones' White Pony CD and my discman and started to enjoy it quite a bit. During Feiticiera, the first song, I tried to use my (attempted) soft singing to move things along during contractions. I was really into the dancing and singing by Digital Bath--a song that has always felt like a birth song to me and was the first dance at our wedding--when the nurse came in so frequently (as they were changing shifts and introducing me to my new nurse--who said "Hi, my name is [] and I've had six natural births and been a Bradley Instructor for 12 years.") that I had to stop too many times and sadly, gave up trying to listen to music.

Much of the next few hours were spent with routine exams, contracting and breathing or moaning through them with my doula gently leading me through the breaths and encouraging me. I had a habit of forgetting to breathe or getting so relaxed that when the next contraction would come, I'd start to panic, but my doula was there, breathing next to me and it would pass in seconds. I had many visitors, which I enjoyed throughout the whole day. My mom snuck me in a cheeseburger and I ate some Jell-O I hid and brought with me. The food kept my strength up, since I started with so little sleep.

During this time, though, hours passed with each dilation check being the same: five centimeters. Finally, it was time to talk about pitocin. My contractions had slowed and seemed to no longer be effective (they weren't even really painful anymore, even). They hooked me up and my contractions came back. While not more intense than the earlier ones, they were more frequent, like they were in the morning, so into the jacuzzi I went.

The water once again helped with the pain, but I had to roll so my belly was out enough that the monitor wasn't under, as all it could hear was water. The nurse tried two different mediums to get the monitor to pick up under water, but no luck. I stayed in until it was time for another check and was still at five cm.

During this time, I had been having trouble with my fluid drip stopping. I'd had two doses of penicillin and was okay with them, although the second was a little achy. Well, while I was laboring in the bed after the check, I had a whopper of a contraction, thanks to the pitocin.

From my perspective, what happened is that I was doing okay in the beginning, but breathing wasn't doing it, so I moved into moaning. But the pain just seemed to keep going on and increasing and eventually, it tore a scream out of me, I couldn't handle it. Then the nurse was putting an oxygen mask on me, saying the baby needed oxygen and everyone was telling me to breathe. The nurse was also saying they had shut off the pitocin. I was a little confused, but thankful that the pain had stopped and wondered when the baby had been checked. Hubby made a joke about my Darth Vader mask and I joked back.

What I didn't know and was told a couple days later was that there was three to four minutes between the scream and the mask. Hubby said that my eyes rolled back in my head and I went limp and stopped breathing. The baby's heart rate started dropping, then they lost them on the monitor entirely. They finally turned off the pitocin and I came to. I have no memory of it at all. But I scared everyone and no one told me, since I didn't need more to worry about.

I guess what had happened was the my fluid drip stopped dripping and the pitocin had been increased a few times before it did, so I was delivered raw pitocin and my body didn't like it. So once they figured that out, the pitocin went back on at half the dosage. I tolerated it just fine, my contractions were just more frequent and while there were still a few that I couldn't just breathe through, it was all manageable.

I had visitors all day and it really helped me get through the day--it seemed to fly by and I probably spent more time in bed than I should have, but I started out depleted and didn't really get better, except for a few hours after I ate.


The nurse came and talked to me about how things might have to change if I still hadn't progressed and then she did the check. Eight centimeters. I cried with relief--all those contractions WEREN'T for nothing. A little while later, my equipment malfunctioned again and the penicillin that was supposed to take about 30 minutes to empty into me emptied in 8 minutes. The pain was so intense it totally stopped my contractions and left me with the strong desire to rip my arm off and beat the IV stand with it. They kept telling me to calm down, but I was in so much pain that I couldn't. It was hands down the worst pain of the entire labor, pushing phase included. When the bag emptied, the pain stopped. Again, no one bothered to tell me that there was a malfunction; they just let me think I was a wimp. My mom yelled at the nurse when I was yelling about the pain and she was unsympathetic. I wonder if she cared later when she found out I wasn't reacting to a normal dose.

I don't remember a lot from there, just that a short while later, things started to change. The contractions became harder and I threw up (Jell-O--it was actually very easy to handle, although I still yelled about it--I REALLY hate vomiting) and when I was checked again, I was at ten centimeters and fully effaced. I was told I could start pushing as soon as I felt the urge to bear down.

She said it was important to push now because the baby was still so high up and of course, the clock was ticking since I was 15 hours from when my water broke (only 18 hours was allowed for GBS+ mothers--stupid and defeatist). So at the first urge, I started trying to push.

It wasn't long before things felt wrong, though. I felt my body fighting me and every time I tried to push, the baby didn't get lower and the pain became immeasurable. I couldn't keep up the entire ten count that the nurse tried to get me to push for--I even tried to say that wasn't how I wanted to push, but things were very confused and I couldn't really form complex thoughts.

I moved from position to position--squatting worked the best, but I didn't have the strength to maintain it. At this point, I had been going on two hours of sleep and a couple five to fifteen minute naps for over twenty hours. I was exhausted, in tremendous pain, trying my hardest to push while my body fought me and kept telling me to stop, but the nurse kept telling me to go and everyone was saying I could do it.

After an hour, I knew they were wrong. My body was telling me, over and over, that I needed to stop. Something was wrong and I knew I couldn't get my baby out the way they went in. But all I could communicate was the physical--"I'm tired" "It hurts" and finally, "I can't do this." My support misunderstood and tried to cheer me on, but I really felt like I couldn't go on and I was getting scared because the feeling that something was Wrong was growing until it was all I could hear from my body anymore. Another nurse even came in and tried to help me, encouraging me to get back into the squatting position and moving around, but it was finally too much. I was flashing from moment to moment, having difficulty focusing on anything and all I could think of was the need to sleep and the need to get the baby OUT.

I want to note here that if it weren't for my doula, my husband and even the nurse, I couldn't have made it through feeling as good as I did. As bad as things got, they kept me going and believing in myself until my body told me "good job, but this has to stop."

Finally, to express how serious I was, I got in the bed, lied down and just gave up and cried until they understood that I didn't mean it was just the pain and exhaustion. I was reminded that the alternative was a cesarean and in my head, I was answering with "Yes, I know, I NEED HELP," but I couldn't get it out. A nurse offered an epidural quietly and I wanted to say yes, but the words wouldn't come out. The things I WAS saying were awful, but I wasn't in my right mind by any means (why no one recognized this as transition is beyond me). After I had made the decision to have the cesarean, I was depressed and terrified and didn't care about anything. I was panicked and hated myself.

The worst feeling I had was that I let everyone else down, that I'd wasted their time. I felt like a failure and that everyone was just going to either be disappointed in me or say, "I told you so." But at the same time, I was thinking of my baby and that I wanted them to come out while they were still doing so well inside me and be healthy.

Now that I had nothing to distract me but my own feelings of guilt and failure, I was screaming through the contractions, barely conscious of anything around me until one nurse grabbed my face and told me to be quiet because I was scaring the other patients. I told her I didn't f***ing care. Then it was a blur until they were taking me into a room and telling me that my husband couldn't go in with me, so I started yelling at them. They ignored me (except to tell me to be quiet again) and yelled at me to get up on the table and sit still.

All I wanted was my husband's hand to hold while they shoved a needle into my spine, but at least I was "allowed" to have him stand in the doorway. They were worried about him making the anesthesiologist 'nervous.' Why the hell should I care and why should he be nervous if he's doing his job right? No one seemed to give a damn about me anymore, which reinforced my feelings that everyone was angry that I'd wasted their time and now they just wanted me out of there. This was the worst part of the whole ordeal.

They gave me a spiel about how I needed to be very still, even if I was contracting. So of course, my body started contracting HARD, when I had finally been in a lull. I had three contractions (and the first real urge to push) while the needles went into my spine and I held onto the nurse in front of me, desperately trying not to move. My whole body was shaking and I heard the anesthesiologist cuss and I thought he was mad at me (turns out, he was cussing about a piece of equipment breaking) then I felt what seemed like warm water all over my back and I was told I needed to lie down. I was barely able to understand them and then everything started rapidly going numb and I laid back.

Everything started to clear then. The pain, the confusion, the psychosis. I could think and finally relax. I was wheeled into the operating room and moved to the table. I saw the straps on the arm board and quickly reminded them that I'd stated no restraints in my birth plan and they responded that I needed to keep my arms on the boards then. Fine, I'm so phobic of being trapped that I had no problem complying.

They put up the blue screen, the doctors came in and I was tested to see if I could feel anything--I could feel something, but not pain. A minute later, I asked if he had started and he said he'd started 30 seconds ago. I asked a lot of questions, made jokes and enjoyed listening to the doctor hum as he worked. I kept reminding hubby to keep the camera primed (it has a delay I didn't want interfering with good shots) and asked a lot of questions which the doctor answered. Then, about five minutes after asking if he'd started, he warned me that there would be a strange sensation like someone sitting on my chest.

Indeed there was, but the feeling of something being pulled out of my tummy--which is what was happening, followed it. It was the oddest sensation of my life, but then nothing mattered because I heard the baby cry. It was the softest little voice, so deep and quiet and I started crying. It was my baby. Hubby was snapping pictures over the screen. Then, without warning, their head appeared above me and I looked into their eyes briefly as a drop of blood fell on my face, then they were whisked away and I shooed hubby off to follow them. I lied there and listened to them cry as I cried my eyes out. At 3:56 am, October 15th, 2006, my child, Lilly Rose, was born by cesarean birth.

(pictures: birth emergence WTF just happened?)

That was my baby. They came from inside me. They were real and really there. Even now I can't think back on it without crying, the emotions were so strong and powerful, which is so rare for me--I have a delayed response to everything. Not this. For once in my life, I felt at the moment something happened, not later.

Everything after that was just relief. They were safe and healthy. I heard the doctor say, "That's a big baby." And they were talking about their head being too big to fit. But they were also complimenting them and then they were being held out to me. Again, I was filled with that overwhelming mix of feelings--all positive--and just marveled at how soft their skin was. I wanted to take them, but didn't feel strong enough to ask. They were rooting already and time was frozen for a few moments and I got to touch them much longer than I thought they would leave them with me before they said it was time for them to go get their tests.


I told hubby it was okay for him to go with to the nursery and after he grinned lovingly at me for a few moments, my "Go, go!" got him to scoot off after them. I wanted one of us there for all of their first moments of life outside of me and I was okay with the two doctors working on me. One of them I personally liked and the other, the one who was doing all the work I had two positive opinions on and had found that I liked him upon meeting him earlier in the day. Now that I wasn't nuts anymore, the nurses were treating me completely differently--maybe they understood that I wasn't myself earlier and that I was just panicked.

I asked if I'd be able to try for a VBAC next time while the doctor was stitching me up and he said it shouldn't be a problem. I asked a nurse for Lilly's weight and length and she said that they were 8lbs, 7oz and 19 inches long. I asked after their APGARs and she said 9 and 9. I was later told that they just had purple hands and feet (which are still their cold spots).

It was about twenty minutes of stitching and stapling and then a few minutes of other tests and they were ready to send me to my room. They told me that they were going to roll me and it would feel like I was going to fall but not to panic or move because I wouldn't. Then they tilted me and it felt like I was stiff as a board and not like I would fall as they put a blue board thing under me, then moved me into another bed and wheeled me to my post-partum room, where my doula was waiting for me.

After a little while, Lilly was brought to me and after the third try latched on and sucked like a hoover! To me, they're perfect--more than I ever dared to hope for and the best thing I've ever done in my life. I love them so much I can't find the words. Recovery was hell, but every time I saw them, it was such a tiny price to pay.

There are always maybes--maybe if I'd waited an hour to push, I'd have been ready and could have done it. Or maybe if I'd waited, I'd have been too tired to do the pushing I DID manage. Maybe if I'd done all this at home it would have taken longer, but ended in a vaginal birth. Or maybe I never would have progressed without the pitocin. Maybe if I'd got up and moved around more things would have been different. Or maybe it would have worn me out faster. Maybe they would have come out if I'd been induced two weeks earlier. Or maybe things would have ended the same, only with me traumatized by the cesarean because I had too many interventions.

I don't care about the maybes, or at least, I'm trying not to. What matters is that I did 22 1/2 hours of natural labor and pushed for an hour and a half of it. I let them come on their own time and didn't end up induced. I decided when it was time for a cesarean and thought no one pressured me into it. Sure, I'm not happy being part of that too high cesarean rate in this country, but I'd have been even unhappier if something had happened to Lilly because I didn't listen to my body/instincts. They came out and blew their tests out of the water, outperforming most babies, vaginal or otherwise. I believe very strongly that it was the time I gave them inside and the time I spent laboring and trying to get them out that gave them such a good strong start in life.
first nursing pic
All in all, I'm satisfied that I did my best and they did their best and we are here together now and they're so amazing that I still can't believe it. I love my little Lilly.


(Having had my VBAC, I now know that my body needed to progress past a 10 with Lilly and I was 'encouraged' to push too soon, which lead to the cesarean. Yes, maybe they really were too big in their hard skull--at 3 years old, it's almost the same size as mine--but I don't really think so)
(This has been further edited to fix Lilly's pronouns, as they were assigned the wrong gender at birth)