"If we hope to create a non-violent world where respect and kindness replace fear and hatred, we must begin with how we treat each other at the begining of life. For that is where our deepest patterns are set. From these roots grow fear and alienation or love and trust."
Suzanne Arms

Monday, July 27, 2009

Piper turns 7!!

Piper turned 7 on July 1oth. We had a party here at the house on the 11th. Normally we will do a pool party at the in-laws house, but we thought we would do something different this year (plus the in-laws live 3 hrs away and we have been going SO much we didn't really want to travel again).

Because we homeschool and we often get together with other 'naturally minded' families (every week actually) the kids are used to playing with kids of all ages. Also these events tend to be more 'family' oriented. Only 1/2 of the families showed up, but we still had like almost 30 kids here (ages 1month to around 12yrs). Plus all the parents were here too! It was crazy and fun!!

We had hotdogs, chips, fruit, veggies cake etc. The kids just played and we pulled out the sprinkler and kiddy pool. We also had to do the traditional bonfire and pinata.

Piper was SO excited about her party! She was talking about it for weeks and picked out a pretty outfit to wear. She said it was the best party ever!!
I just can't believe she is 7. Oh my gosh 7 years old! Where is my baby? I remember when she was born. She was my healing home/waterbirth after having transferred with my first and I could not believe she was a girl. And not only is she my only girl, but her birth was my only one that was pretty textbook, and it was my shortest (but not easiest, Evers gets that title). You can read it here.

We made Piper the 'Duggar' Cake. It is an idea we got from the Duggar family who are on TLC (they have 18 kids). We don't use Butterfingers though (made by Nestle and we boycott Nestle if we can). It is SO yummy and easy and we just put pokemon on top to decorate it.
Here is how we make it . . .

  • Layer the bottom of a dish (baking dish or whatever) with ice cream sandwiches
  • Do a 2nd layer of whip cream on top of the ice cream sandwiches (cool whip works best for us, though not as natural as whipped cream)
  • Drizzle with chocolate syrup, caramel, and Reeces Cruncher candy bars (we like those best)
  • Repeat with another layer of sandwiches, whip cream, chocolate, caramel and candy bars
  • Then we decorate it for whatever party we are using it for
  • Keep in the freezer and take it out just a few minutes before serving
  • Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm, everyone LOVES it!!!
The stampede for pinata candy above, and the annual burning of the pinata below

Thrace and Arah seemed to be having fun too!!

Ever had so much fun and was so worn out, that he ended up falling asleep on the little potty!!

We had a few friends stay the night. They all went up stairs to watch a movie and they were so wiped out from playing so hard that they all fell asleep on the bed (Arah, Piper, Xian and their friends Connor and Aidan).

Piper is such a blessing to us. I can't believe how big she is getting!! She is a wonderful big sister taking care of the other little kids. She is a tom boy who loves to play with the boys, loves pokemon and playing video games (not so into dolls) but she has her girly side who loves to look pretty, have her hair fixed and nail polish on (though Ever loves his nail polish too, LOL). She is sensitive though she sometimes hides her feelings and she is very affectionate. She has a great imagination and we will often find her outside, running around the yard alone, doing play pokemon battles or singing or just dancing or running in circles. She LOVES all types of art and is an amazing little artist. She is a pretty 'easy' kid and I don't have to correct her often, but boy she can be stubborn at times. In fact we can all credit her for me making my first Kozy. She was the baby who wouldn't be put down and nursed every 45min . . . I was desperate and had to make something with 2 shoulders to carry her in . . . and so was born the Kozy.

She really is such a blessing and I am so grateful to God for giving me such an amazing little girl. I pray that He makes us sensitive to her needs and helps us continue to be the best parents we can be to her, so that she grows up to be a happy, well rounded, self confidant woman (maybe even outspoken like her mama ;0) who loves God.

Pipperita and her Peekachu

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Five (or rather ten) Things to Know Before Giving Birth or "Is it Possible to Have a Homebirth in the Hospital?"

(Disclaimer: I wrote the post below about ways to improve you chances of having a natural intervention free birth. But i wanted to come back and write a disclaimer because as a huge homebirth advocate I believe to have the best chance at an empowering, intrervention free, gentle birth for you and your baby, you should STAY HOME!! However, I know that some can't for health reasons, and still others would never be comfortable at home. These are the people who 'may' benefit most from my thoughts/rants below)

Homebirth in the Hospital" What do you think when you read that? I know what I think, it is an oxymoron for one thing. It is . . . my friends . . . impossible!!! And it is the title of a new book out by Stacey Marie Kerr, MD. She is a family physician with a leaning in Midwifery who has worked with (and birthed with) Ina May at The Farm (along with assisting many families in hospital births). Now I am not going to review the book because I haven't read it (and honestly I probably never will as I have a whole bookshelf full of positive parenting, unschooling, birthing, natural health books waiting to be read . . .who has time?). I am sure she has good intentions, and it is probably a pretty good book, but I take a little issue with the title. I just don't like it and find it misleading. But I'll get to that later.

My point in writing is that Dr Kerr wrote an article that I read recently at www.mindful-mama.com entitled Five Things Every Woman Should Know Before Giving Birth. I thought it was interesting and a nice read, so I thought I would share a quick run down of the 5 things she suggests (though for the extended version, just read the article).

Dr Kerr states the 5 things as

  1. "First, take responsibility for your choices. Each woman has a choice about where she delivers, who she chooses to provide her care, and who she invites to support her during her birth."
  2. "Expect communication to be open and flowing both ways—between your provider, your birth team, and yourself. Expectations, fears, and preferences should be shared long before the first contraction."
  3. "Pay attention to continuity of care, because it can support a safe environment. If your primary provider may not be there when you go into labor, find out who will be."
  4. "The confidence you have in your provider and in your birth team is essential. When you give birth you should have no questions about the competency or the trustworthiness of your companions. Spend your months of pregnancy developing relationships built on trust so you can let your team care for you completely during labor and birth."
  5. In any hospital, there must be control of protocols. Every woman is different, every labor is different, and forcing all women to have babies according to set protocols is unrealistic. As long as the baby and the mom are doing well, women should be allowed to go into labor and give birth at their own pace, in their own style. And if non-emergent interventions seem to be needed, they should be discussed and agreed upon, rather than used according to impersonal rules.
She then lists a sixth thing . . . " the sixth C to consider, the one that should never be allowed into a birth: conflict. Conflict releases stress hormones that work against the powerful hormones that facilitate birth."

I agree with most of what she says, well I mean what is not to agree with? But I think it is almost too simplified, or maybe she isn't as cynical as I am. I mean sure, you cannot know what will happen with your labor, but what you also cannot know is how your providers will react to the situation. You cannot guarantee yourself anything, not how the birth will progress or that your providers, the nurses on staff etc. won't be harassing and pressuring you to do things their way. You can talk to them before hand, you can think you trust them explicitly, they can answer all your questions the 'right' way and act like the perfect Dr for you, but I have read too many birth stories where the Dr at your appointments becomes a different person during the birth, and the birth plan (which I think she downplays a little too much) goes out the window. And this can happen even if you think you know and trust them well. In most large practices you can't guarantee who will attend your birth, and though you meet with each dr, do you really spend enough time with them to know them well and for them to know you well enough? And in birth, IMO, it is those around you who can have the largest impact on the outcome.
Am I showing my cynical side and my lack of trust of Drs here? LOL!! I could go on and on but I won't. I think that there are ways that you can help better ensure that those who are working for you are really working with you . . . so maybe I'd add some things to her list above.

If I had to write 5 things to recommend people do to ensure the best natural hospital birth they would be . . .
  1. Find a good midwife!! Not all midwifes are wonderful and not all midwives are the same (Get references and check them out) but you are far more likely to find a midwife who won't manage your birth and who has more trust and faith in birth than a medical Dr. A great thing about midwives too is that they are usually in smaller practices (or alone) so you would have fewer to rotate through, and your visits with them will usually be longer than if you are using an OB. So there is time for you to get to know them and vice/versa and this is important in building trust. If a midwife isn't possible then a family practice dr will probably be more hands off than an OB. If you must use an OB then please get references. Ask around and talk to moms who have used OB's for natural births. Ask how their births went and how the OB's acted (and whether the birth was textbook or out of the ordinary will matter too, since intervention is more likely if the birth doesn't follow the standard pattern . . . like 4 of my 5, LOL). Another thing to consider is the hospital where they practice. There may be a great Dr who practices at a crappy hospital with horrible policies, so it would be worth it to drive further for a better hospital.
  2. Hire a DOULA. Moms who use doulas have shorter labors, reduced risk for c-sections, less use of epidurals, pitocin, and forceps delivery. A great thing about a doula is that she will come to your home in early labor and can often help you decide when it is the best time to go to the hospital (because you do NOT want to go to the hospital too early. The longer you wait to go in, the better chance you have of avoiding intervention). But not all doulas are the same either, so again, get references if possible. They are wonderful for supporting you and your husband during a natural birth (they know all the tricks and comfort measures) but they should also be your advocate when you can't speak up for yourself, and ideally, you shouldn't have to worry about advocating for yourself, you should be able to focus completely on the birth. So make sure your doula is willing and able to do this for you. They should be able, IMO, to ensure that the hospital personnel are following your birth plan and to step in on your behalf if needed (like if you are having a contraction and your husband is beside himself and neither of you can tell the nurse for the 15th time that you refuse the IV or hep lock and to just leave you the heck alone!!!). Which brings me to point 3 . . .
  3. Write a birth plan. And I am talking detailed birth plan. I haven't searched the web but I am sure there are great ones you can create and print. Make sure you leave nothing out, include everything, even the smallest little things, and then when you arrive at the hospital, have copies handy for every person who steps foot in your room (your dh can hand them out). Tape a copy to your hospital room door (along with your "Respect and quiet please . . . natural birth in progress" sign) and above the bed or wherever you feel it is needed. I'd even highlight the most important parts (and your doula should know it all by heart).
  4. Take a good, independent childbirth class. Please don't take a hospital affiliated class as your only class. What is taught there is pretty much determined (or approved) by the hospital and it is usually telling you what to expect when you come in, assuming most moms are going to follow along and be good 'patients', want the epidural asap etc. Take a class that covers all the possible interventions, as well as comfort measures etc. (relaxing and listening to your body are so important). Then go online or buy some books (Henci Goer is wonderful) and DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH so that when you are in labor and the Dr tells you that "X MUST be done" you can tell him that he is full of crap and throw some statistics at him, LOL!! Though hopefully if you follow the first 3 above none of that would be needed (like I said, you should be focusing on laboring and not worrying about having to advocate for yourself and your baby). And yes, at times intervention may be needed. But if you are doing things naturally and listening to your instincts and are not being managed, then needed intervention is rare. If you know your rights, and are educated and listening to your instincts, you will be able to determine if an intervention that is suggested is really needed in your case. You will be making an informed decision.
  5. Remember that YOU are in charge. This is YOUR birth, no one is 'delivering' you or your baby. You are doing all the work, they are merely assisting you, and you have chosen them for the job. You are paying them and they should be working for you. Have you ever heard a mom say "the Dr wouldn't let me walk around, or go past my due date, or use the squat bar or whatever". No Dr "allows" you to do anything. You tell them what you are doing and if they don't like it they are more than happy to express this to you (and they will, as they should as your assistant). And when you tell them you are doing it anyway, they will just have to deal with it (though hopefully they know you well enough to know what to expect and won't be shocked if you end up on all fours on the bed, butt in the air, pushing a baby out!!). But if you have a wonderful birthing assistant, who is hands off, respects you and trusts birth, then there shouldn't be any conflict, just mutual respect and decision making. You can also do other things to claim 'authority' over your birth. Wear your own clothes (not the hospital gown) bring items from home (music, lighting, pillow etc.) place a sign on your door, fire the staff (nurses) if you don't like how they treat you and request new more respectful nurses. You deserve to be treated with respect and anyone not doing that shouldn't have the privilege of attending your birth.
So those are my 5 recommendations. Keep in mind they are coming from a cynical, non-trusting, proactive, natural homebirthing (whose births would have screamed 'intervention' where they in the hospital) mama of 5, LOL!! I am sure I could come up with more than 5 tips but geez, this is already a novel, LOL!! While I think in a sense you do have to be a little 'on guard' in the hospital (well, at least I would be), if you are educated, surround yourself with supportive people, make your wishes known, have others advocating for you and are comfortable enough to listen to your instincts then things should go well (and a quick textbook labor/birth wouldn't hurt either, LOL)

I have known several people who had positive natural hospital births. My sister Kim has had 5 fairly intervention free natural births. Though of course her births are so textbook and so quick that by the time she gets to the hospital the Dr doesn't have time to do anything but catch the baby (nooooo, I am not envious or jealous of her short births at all . . . LOL). I have one friend in particular who had a simply beautiful natural hospital birth with her first (she had a great midwife and great nurses on staff that day). Were they like "homebirths in the hospital" though? I am going to say no (though hers was probably as close as it gets). Why? Because there is just no such thing and I think to imply that you can have a homebirth in the hospital is doing a disservice to, well, homebirth, LOL!

Not all women can have a homebirth and not all women want one and that absolutely is fine.
I know"homebirth in the hospital" it isn't supposed to be taken literally but I am sorry, you can't have the best of both worlds, you can't be home and have access to everything the hospital offers (though midwives do come with equipment and are very prepared) and you can't be in the hospital and have all the comfort, familiarity, simplicity and authority that you have in your own home. You can have a "home like" atmosphere, and for some they may even be able to feel as free and comfortable and be able to birth as instinctively in the hospital as they would at home. But the hospital doesn't smell like your home. It doesn't have your bed, your personal bathroom, your clothes, your refrigerator, and it has much different germs! And with a homebirth you are not having to get dressed, get the kids dressed, get in the car and drive somewhere in the middle of labor UGH!!

I think if someone wants a homebirth, they should just stay home!! If they want or need a hospital birth, then they can take steps to have the best, most natural, empowering and gentle birth possible for them and their baby. No matter what a person decides, ultimately it is their responsibility.

To say "Homebirth in the Hospital" . . . well, it does sound compelling and may get peoples attention, but I think perhaps a better, more accurate title would be "Empowering birth in the Hospital" or "Instinctive Natural Hospital Birth". But, what do I know? Maybe I am just being nit picky. ;0)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

7 Weeks Old and Already Potty Trained!!!

I know, you are thinking . . .
Does that say 7 wks old and potty trained?
OK not really, LOL!! But Thrace definitely knows when he has to go!

Thrace going 'potty' at 7 wks. July 09

I have done Elimination Communication (aka. EC) with all of my babies. I didn't start with Xian till he was 9mo, though I knew about it before he was born (still kicking myself for not doing it sooner with him). There was information about EC on the web back in 2000, but there is even more now!! He was 'potty independent' at 24 mo. With Piper I started at 6 wks. It was like a light bulb moment when I realized that some of the fussing that she was doing was because she needed to pee . . . I mean when I realized it was just SO obvious (and here I was thinking that she was needing to be burped or something). She was completely independent (telling me every time she had to go, no more accidents) at 17mo. I started with the last 3 kids from birth. Arah 'graduated' at around 22mo and Ever around 24.

Piper sitting on the little potty at 8mo
It never ceases to amaze me when I take a newborn to the sink (holding them over the sink is easier on my back than holding them over the potty) and make the cue sound . . ."psssss" . . . . (this kind of just lets them know that they can go) and then seeing them actually responding and going to the potty. I mean you would think that it would be old hat by now but it isn't, it is just amazing that these little people, who can't even talk, can communicate their desire to go and actually hold it for a short time while they wait for me to get my act together and realize what they want and take them to the potty!!!
I usually start slow. For the first few weeks I only take them potty when I am changing their diapers (and they almost always go). Then as they get older I start leaving the diaper off or the cover off (we use cloth) and taking them more often. By a few months old I don't use diapers much around the house (and yes, I get peed on from time to time) and by 6mo I typically switch to waterproof training pants (EC pants I call them, from the EC Store) while we are out.

Ever 4 wks old
Anyway, the point of my post is that for the past 2 days, Thrace (as seen in the photo at top) has been VERY adamant about letting me know he has to go. We have gone ALL DAY both days in the same diaper . . . meaning that yes, at 7 wks old, he has told me that he has to potty, and held it for me to take him, all day for 2 days in a row with no 'misses' (meaning I haven't missed his 'cues'). This doesn't count night time of course. When we go out or if I am really busy I am not quite as attentive, and I can't always take him to potty every 1/2 hr (which is how often he has to go at this age when he is awake . . . though while sleeping he will hold it for a couple hours). But the last 2 days I have been paying attention and able to take him when he needs to go. We have gone 12 hrs each day with a dry diaper! Oh wait, I forgot, we did go out! We took the kids to a movie. I took him to potty at home before we left, he nursed through most of the movie, I didn't go to change his diaper till we got back to the car and it was DRY!! So I promptly held him over the little potty in the car and he went! Just SO cool! OK yes, I'll admit it . . . I think baby pooping and peeing is cool!!

With EC things don't alway
s go so smoothly. They go through stages where they are more interested in crawling or walking than letting you know they have to go. They will go through little strikes or just go in their pants because they don't want to stop playing (or they just don't care). Each of the kids has been different. But the key is knowing that they CAN and DO communicate this need with us, and respecting and listening and communicating back with them. I always tell people it isn't about how many pees I 'catch' or miss, it is about the communication. I am telling ya, since starting EC with my first at 9mo . . . I feel like I know them better and knowing that they can communicate their need to eliminate . . . it isn't something I can ignore ya know.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Kozy Family Has A New Member!!

God has blessed us again!!
Mmmm, gotta love all these babies!!! Hannah Shiloh Zeh was born to our sister Kim and brother-in-law John on Wed, July 8th 2009!!! She is a sweet little doll 7lb 5oz. I mean she is just the cutest thing!! Kristi and I are proud aunties!! Our big sister Kim was amazing, pushing out this little girl in 5 pushes (after only a few hours of labor). Here are Kim's stats . . . she has 4 girls and 1 boy (Sarah, Selah, John Wilson and Esther . . opposite of my 4 boys and 1 girl) and this is her 5th natural hospital birth (go girl!!!). Despite Kim and I having very similar body types (same height, roughly the same weight etc.) our births, though natural, are very different (meaning hers are quick, mine are not, LOL!! that is OK, I am not jealous . . . well, not too much, LOL!!).

Me and Shiloh on her 'birth' day (above right ) Our sister Kim and Shiloh (left)

Hannah Shiloh's daddy is a Captian in the VA National Guard, so he has been deployed to Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq (a year each). We LOVE John and the sacrifices that he and his family (and all the other military families) are making for our country and to keep us safe!!
What a special family Shiloh is born into!!

We thank God for another wonderful birth and another beautiful niece!!

2 newest babies, Thrace at 6 wks and Shiloh just a few hours old

Shiloh's first ride in the kozy (just hours old)
and getting a smooch from Aunt Kristi (aka Aunt Kissy)

Friday, July 3, 2009

The birth of Thrace Galen Mason

Well as some of you may or may not know, I had baby Thrace a little over a month ago (May 26, 2009). My stats . . . he is my 5th child, 4th son. It was my 5th 'planned' homebirth (first ended in transfer after 3 hrs of pushing due to excessive bleeding on my part and decels on baby's part) but 4th baby to be born at home. He was a land baby like my first (also weighed the same as my first 8.4) after 3 waterbirths. Not sure what I was thinking when I decided not to 'plan' a waterbirth this time, obviously it was pregnancy brain getting to me, LOL!!! I explain it all in the birth story though. It was my 3rd unassisted birth.

It wasn't an easy birth. So far each birth had gotten easier than the previous, but not this time. Though nothing can compare with my first birth (5 hr transition, 5 hrs pushing, it was durn hard!!!) Labor was long 24 hrs, and I pushed for 2 1/2. So much for the thought that the more kids you have the easier it is for them to 'come out' LOL!!! It was my 3rd birth where I had really weird like spaced out contractions. Lets just say that for the last 3 births, were I in the hospital, my labor would have no doubt been termed 'dysfunctional' and I would have been bombarded with all sorts of interventions. Actually come to think of it, my 2nd baby was the only one where things went pretty 'textbook' during the labor. My first would have most likely been a c/s.

I have been so amazingly blessed by God to have 5 beautiful healthy kids an 5 natural births where I was able to listen to my body and avoid interventions, despite my labors being so 'unusual'. Some of you know I use the name Entergently on lots of forums, and for my other website. The name describes how I strive to live and 'be' with my family. And it starts with a gentle entrance into the world . . . it is so important to me that my kids start out life this way!! And I hope to carry it on throughout their lives as they learn and grow.

The birth story is long (and very detailed and somewhat and bloody . . . just a heads up) ;0) so grab some popcorn and a comfy chair. I have pictures and video stills from the birth up too. To read it go to www.entergently.homestead.com/Thrace.html and click on the link for his unassisted birth story.
I actually have all the kids birth stories (and recent family pictures) up if you would like to read more http://www.entergently.homestead.com/


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