D: Hello everyone! I’m DeAnna, and I’m writing you from the beautiful state of Colorado. I have lived here for the past 23 years, but I originally hail from the great state of Texas. I am a stay-at home mother, and have been since a few months before my son was born. In my former life, I worked for many years in retail management. Then I went back to school to become a psychotherapist. I plan on opening a private practice and seeing adults and teenagers once both of my children are in school full-time.
I am a happily married mommy (: I met my husband when we were both in college many moons ago. We’ve been married since 2007. He is my best friend, and I am glad that he is by my side as we go through this journey called life.
Tell us about your children.
D: I have two children. A boy I call George who is 3, and a girl I call Georgina who is almost 4 months. I would describe my children as awesome ? George just started part-time preschool this fall and he is full of questions, many of which he likes to ask over and over and over. and over. :p He makes my husband and I laugh a lot, and he is just an all-around great kid. Georgina currently enjoys grabbing her feet, rolling from back to front (and then crying because she doesn’t know what to do next, ) and smiling at most everyone she meets. She currently doesn’t enjoy wearing socks.
Tell us about your births.
D: When I was pregnant with George, I decided early on that I wanted to try to have an unmedicated, low intervention birth. I read a bunch of books and watched the documentaries The Business of Being Born and Pregnant in America. Both of these films talk about the medical establishment and how its goals are not always in line with the goals of parents. To make a long story short, I went in for my 40-week appointment and was told that I was on the verge of having pre-eclampsia. I was feeling fine, but the doctor that saw me suggested I be admitted that day. I ended up being admitted the next day, given Cytotec to open my cervix, had my water “accidentally” broken by the nurse as she was checking me, dilated to 10 centimeters, and then pushed for over 2 hours (even though I never felt the urge) trying to get George to come down the birth canal. It wasn’t happening, so I was told by the doctor that I needed to have a c-section. I always knew that birth plans don’t always go “according to plan, ” so I had read in my books what to do if/when you are going in for a caesarean. Healthy mama, healthy baby was the outcome–which is always the ultimate goal. I also knew that I had consented to everything that happened during the birth process, so I wasn’t too broken up about it. (Actually, I was feeling a little broken up about it immediately afterwards, but I told myself that that was totally normal. I also said that if I was still feeling upset about it several months later, that I would look into going to talk to someone about my feelings. When that time came, I was feeling fine–so I didn’t feel the need to follow up.)
With Georgina, I was kind of on the fence as to whether I just wanted to schedule another C-section or try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean.) I did end up scheduling a caesarean, but I pushed my doctor to make it as far out as possible. I also started googling “how to have a successful VBAC”, and everything that I read said to hire a doula. I hadn’t been too keen on a doula the first time around, I thought it seemed artificial having some woman you didn’t know hanging around during one of the most important and personal times of your life. But I met with two, and really clicked with one, so I hired her. Four days before Georgina’s due date (Saturday, ) I started having contractions, but they weren’t that strong or that regular. Sunday, I was having contractions and they were getting stronger, but still not regular. That evening I was out to dinner with my husband and when I went to the bathroom I saw that I lost my mucus plug. I got really excited, because that was not something that had happened with George. I called my doula and told her what had been going on and she was like, “That’s great! Feel free to call me again if anything changes.”
Monday morning, I woke up and the contractions were getting stronger and more regular. I called my doula and asked her to come over. She got there around 10:30 or 11. I labored at home for several hours. During the contractions, I would say to myself “relax and breathe”, and just got in whatever position I felt most comfortable. My doula did acupressure, aromatherapy and massage, and always had suggestions for whatever questions I posed to her. We walked to a park nearby and also had lunch. At about 7:30 or 8, my contractions were close to 5-1-1 (five minutes apart, one minute long for an hour, ) and I decided that I was ready to go to the hospital. My husband and I drove there and she followed us in her car. When the nurse checked me at the hospital, she said I was 5 to 6 cm dilated. I had wanted to be 7 or more, but both the nurse and my doula were very happy with 5-6. After talking to the doctor on duty, the nurse also said it would be okay for me to have intermittent monitoring and to get into the tub if I wanted. I was really happy to hear that, because my OB had told me that neither of those things would be possible with a VBAC. So, I got checked in and decided I wanted to get into the tub.
I got out of the tub after a few minutes, and eventually it was time to start my intermittent monitoring and also put in my hep lock (the beginning stage of an IV). As the nurse was putting in my hep lock, I felt this really strange sensation and yelled out, “Something’s happening!” That something was my water breaking. The nurse checked me and said that I was complete, and that it was time to start pushing! My husband and I were both surprised and excited that it had happened so quickly. A part of me also started to get a little apprehensive, because the pushing phase was where I felt like things had started to go downhill with my first birth. This was when I came closest to freaking out, I felt like I had lost my center a little bit. But my doula was there to calm me down and suggested that I make noises from deep in my belly instead of my chest, because that would give me more power for pushing. I followed her advice, and after 20 minutes of pushing, Georgina was born. Both my husband and I were in a daze saying, “I did it!” “You did it!” over and over. It was a great experience, and I am so glad that it turned out the way that I hoped.
I feel really lucky to have been able to have the experience of two different ways of bringing a baby into this world. You can never predict how things are going to go down, and I am happy that the 2nd time around I had a staff that was onboard with trying to help me have the kind of birth that I wanted. I also know that having a c-section is not the end of the world. It truly is about having a healthy mom and healthy baby. I went into the VBAC knowing that I might end up with another c-section, and that would have been fine with me. I just knew that I wanted to try for a VBAC, and if I didn’t at least try for one, I would probably regret it. I’m glad that I listened to myself, and wasn’t afraid to go after something that I wanted.
Did you breastfeed? How did you balance breastfeeding and managing your home?
D: Yes, I breastfed my son for 10 months. My goal was a year, but he started biting me. Having your nipple bitten feels exactly like what you think it feels like–it hurts!! There are suggestions on the internet for what you can do when biting happens, and I tried some of those, but they didn’t work. I was pretty much over it at that point, so I quit without any regrets. I hope to nurse my daughter for as long as I did my son, but I am not going to beat myself up over it if it doesn’t happen. I chose to breastfeed my children because breast milk is full of magic ? It helps your children build healthy immune systems, promotes bonding between mama, and baby, and helps you lose weight after you’ve given birth. Plus formula is dang expensive. As far as managing it, I just try to do the things that I can do while breastfeeding, like being on the computer, reading, or journaling. I will also spend time gazing lovingly into Georgina’s eyes if the mood strikes.
How do you carve out time for yourself?
D: I like to consider myself a pretty organized person that always has short-term, mid-range, and long-term goals. Pretty much every morning I will make myself a to-do list of what I would like to get accomplished that day. I have a number of systems in place that help my household run as smoothly as possible. I carve out time for myself, by first recognizing that time for myself is important. I cannot be a good mom and wife if I am not first a good DeAnna. I make it a priority, just like all the other things that are important to me. To give just one example, I get up a few times a week at 5:15 a.m. to work out, because I love the way that I feel during and after a workout. It also makes me happy knowing that I am doing what I can to keep my body healthy so that I can hopefully be around for my husband and kids for a long, long time.
What is your biggest parenting challenge right now.
D: With my son, I would say staying patient when he tests boundaries in the way that all 3-year-olds do. With my daughter I would say taking the bottle, so that I can be away from her for more than an hour at a time.
Who is your child-rearing support group?
D: We live close to both sets of grandparents, and they offer us much appreciated support. My mom comes over once a week and stays with our kids so I can run errands, hang out with friends or just do whatever. Sometimes I don’t have anything planned and all four of us just spend time together. My in-laws also watch our son one night on the weekend, so that my husband and I can have date night (with our daughter, who makes a very cute third wheel ? My husband takes a very active role in child-rearing. Once he gets home from work and on the weekends, we basically tag team to make sure that both children’s needs are being met.
How do you determine your kids are well-adjusted?
D: They both are quick to smile. I try to have a consistent routine for both of them, because children thrive on structure. Our son often tells us that he loves us. He gets along well with others, and neither child has any issues that are of any major concern to us. ::knock on wood::
What is the most important value, ideal or philosophy that you would like to impart to your children?
D: I would like for both of my children to be kind and compassionate people that treat every living being they encounter with dignity and respect.
What advice would you give to a new mom?
D: Oh boy. I love to give advice and I love to get advice. I always ask people I meet that have been married a long time what they think the secret is to a happy marriage. (Their answers always contain some variation of, “Stick it out through the hard parts.”) And when I was pregnant with George, I loved to hear advice from people that had already been doing the mom thing.
One piece of advice I really like is “A baby never died from crying.” If you ever feel yourself getting really stressed, it is always ok to put the baby down in a safe place and go somewhere away from the crying to calm down for a bit. Babies’ cries are meant to stress us out, that’s how they ensure that someone will come to them and take care of them.
Remember that your kids are not your property, they are their own separate human beings, with thoughts, feelings and desires. You should certainly do what you can to mold their behavior, but you cannot control them. What you can control is how you respond to them.
Read to your kids. It is never to early to start, and even when it seems like they don’t know what’s going on, I can assure you they are getting something out of it. Put your baby to bed drowsy, but not asleep. Try not to argue in front of your children. Studies have shown that even babies that are just a few months old–their blood pressure goes up when they hear people arguing.
Learn about child development so you know what is reasonable and unreasonable to expect from your child behaviorally at different ages.
Control what media your children are exposed to. Violence and sexual images are not appropriate for children, they are not developmentally ready to process them.
Don’t let your whole identity become that of “Mommy.” If you sacrifice everything for your children, you will undoubtedly begin to resent them if and when they don’t give you what you are expecting in return for such a sacrifice.
Don’t let your pride keep you from apologizing to your children when you screw up. Our children need to know that we are not perfect and that we make mistakes. We can model for them how to act when someone else is hurt due to our mistakes. Finally and most importantly: On a daily basis, strive to show your children through your words and actions that you love them unconditionally. You are probably the most important person to them in the world, and it is vital to show them that you think they are pretty great too ?
DeAnna is a new writer for Baby and Blog! Look out for more content from her in the coming weeks ?