Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ryder’s Birth Story Part 2

mexico city 001We entered the taxi and I was noticing that we were driving what felt remarkably slow. It was after one am, which was a blessing because it can take 2 hours in Mexico City traffic  to get to Medica Sur Lomas. The streets were empty, though, so when the taxi driver asked, “Should I drive fast or slow?” I said “fast” at the same time Jacob said “slow.” Smart man, he listened to the woman in labor. Jacob felt like he drove recklessly, but I was just glad he got us there in 20 minutes because I didn’t feel like singing through contractions in the cab.
When we arrived at the hospital they sat Jacob down to do paperwork and wheeled me away to another room, which I did not like because of the language barrier. They set me up with the fetal heart rate monitor and brought in a doctor with limited English who began by asking, “What is the purpose of your visit?” If I’d had a sense of humor at the moment I would have answered something like, “I broke my nose” instead I said somewhat wryly “I’m in labor.” He then asked me about 20 other questions like “Do you have any diseases?” the whole time I was wishing Jacob was there. He finally showed up and the doctor checked my dilation. I screamed. There is something barbaric about a man you just met shoving his hand up you. When he said “Seven!” I breathed a sigh of thorough relief. If I’d had that kind of pain for that length of time and only had been at a two I don’t know what I would have done.
We waited quite a while as they fussed about setting up my antibiotics. I had tested positive for Group B Strep and my doctor had told me it was unnecessary to treat during labor; I could take ampicillin for 5 days and it would be gone. When I researched it on the internet, however, I discovered the official position of Australia, Canada, and the US was that it had to be prescribed during labor. That it can regenerate within hours so it is pointless to treat before labor. Group B Strep is harmless in adults but is the leading cause of serious infection in infants. Thus I spent hours of studying on the internet about how it was to be treated because my doctor and doula didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. This was an example of how healthcare in Mexico is substandard.  I didn’t want to admit that—I wanted the best hospital in Mexico to be equal to the US but in this case it seemed quite lacking. Only 1 in 200 infants gets Group B Strep of untreated moms, so it’s still rare, but it was something I decided I didn’t want to mess with. So I made the doctor promise I could take penicillin with 5 million units  at the initial dose and 2.5 million every 4 hours thereafter.  It was a little stressful to feel like I had to administer my own medicine but in the end it wasn’t important because it took so long for my water to break. As long as your water is not broken your baby is still protected. So I got the IV put in and it helped to be listening to my meditation CDs as she did.
My meditation program was one bought last minute. It’s called Hypbirth and it’s supposed to be started in the second trimester. Instead I bought it about a week before my due date because I was starting to get scared about labor. I listened to it that week but I didn’t give it my full effort. I didn’t do the “finger drops” and I didn’t stop the tapes and do the things she asked. During labor, though, it was nice to have a voice in the background telling me to relax. I found out later Jacob thought she was annoying for saying stuff like “you’re a thousand times more relaxed then you’ve ever been right now.” He thought, she is in labor, why should she be more relaxed than she’s ever been, that’s not realistic. I found out later the same track played over and over again during my labor, but I was distracted and didn’t notice.
Glenda Furszyfer, my doula, had arrived but my doctor hadn’t yet. They led us to the laboring room. I got in the shower and despite the water being warm I started to shiver uncontrollably. I believe that was me entering transition phase which is dilating to an 8. I asked Jacob to turn on my Princess Bride playlist on Grooveshark. My doctor arrived and greeted me when I was shaking like mad, nude, in the shower. I didn’t care. It’s amazing how your inhibitions disappear when giving birth. I got in the laboring tub and almost fell asleep. My contractions stopped. Glenda thought I should get out then. I started kissing Jacob through the contractions which helped to distract from the pain, and also it’s supposed to help speed labor along. My doctor and Glenda left to give us some privacy. My contractions were still slowing down, so we decided to go for a walk around the hospital. Because I was still singing through my contractions, Jacob told me we should probably go back to the laboring room because I was probably disturbing the other hospital guests—it was the middle of the night after all. When we returned he went to the room where my doctor and Glenda were convening together. Later I would find out they were deciding to break my water. Jacob tried to talk them out of it but they had already made up their minds.
My doctor checked my dilation. I screamed through his check as well. Glenda told me that my doctor was out of all ob gyns a very gentle doctor. I told him not to take it personally. He said he didn’t. I was at a 10. He told me he thought I should get my water broken and use some progestaglandins to start contractions. I resisted weakly. I said, “I’m scared.” Glenda said, “You’ve already done the hardest part! Don’t you want to meet your baby?” My doctor told me it would be bad for the baby not to. Of course Jacob and I were powerless to argue against that. He got out the hook. After my water was broken, and after allowing them to make that invasive procedure, they really began to take charge of my labor and I no longer felt in control. Glenda kept having me do full squats. I’d hold Jacob’s hands and do them, but she was a tough taskmaster. She was correcting my form, telling me to keep my feet flat and go all the way to the ground. It was torture. I could feel the baby pushing, pushing his way down the canal. It was definitely the most athletic thing I’ve ever done. I drank nearly 3 full large bottles of Gatorade. I kept asking to get in the water and for whatever reason, Glenda kept turning me down.
mexico city 008
The tub I didn’t labor in.
I also kept asking if I could lay down and rest. Finally Glenda agreed to let me get on the bed. She then had me start pushing through contractions. It was certainly not resting. I felt no urge to push, but she and my doctor kept shouting to push harder. I was pushing with all my might laying down against she and Jacob with my feet in the air. It was so hard. I was roaring through the pain, I was no longer singing. My voice would feel hoarse for the next 24 hours from this 45 minute experience. I remember saying, “I know I can’t get the epidural, but don’t you have anything else you can give me for the pain?” and Glenda saying, “No, there’s nothing.”  She also told me, “It’s almost dawn! Babies come when the sun arrives.” Finally they had me get up on the bed into squat position and that’s when they could see Ryder’s head. They told me to feel his head with my hand. It didn’t feel like a head to me, it was too soft and squishy. I knew it was finally going to be over soon, though, because nurses and the pediatrician suddenly came into the room and were bustling about getting prepared. My doctor was stretching me down there manually with his hand, Glenda was saying, “Don’t forget this moment! You are going to meet your baby soon” and I was sweating. The intensity of that experience was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. The so-called “ring of fire” where the baby’s head exits stung but compared to the pain of the moments leading up to it it wasn’t so bad—after all it only lasted a few seconds. Once his head was out the rest of his body slipped out easily. Glenda had helped me take off my sports bra moments before so he could be skin to skin and we could start breastfeeding right away, which is what we did.
He was screaming and purple when they put him on my chest. My first impression was, “Is that really my baby?” I didn’t recognize him. He was covered in slimy stuff and his face was swollen and puffy. I don’t know why but I was thinking I would recognize him when I saw him. I thought his nose, especially, looked very swollen. Now I know that he has Jacob’s nose—an alpha nose, Jacob calls it Smile I anxiously awaited to hear that he was healthy and sound and all in one piece. He latched on and had a healthy appetite immediately. I was struck how he seemed to have his eyes wide open and that he was looking me right in the eye. I thought his eyes would be closed and I certainly didn’t think he would make eye contact right away.
ryder right after birth
glenda and i
Glenda’s visit the next day

Glenda kept saying, “Talk to him! Talk to him!” I was mildly annoyed. Of course we were going to talk to him. I was still in shock from the overwhelming experience of before, so all I could manage was, “Hello baby. Hello baby.” Jacob tells me he was laughing joyfully but my experience was not over. I still had to birth the placenta. I had no idea how huge that thing would be! I had Jacob take a picture of it. I had to get stitched up. I had 10 stitches. It hurt a little even with the local anesthetic I was injected with but there was plenty to distract me while it was going on. They told me it was a medium bad/deep tear.  I also had a shot in my side to help prevent hemorrhage and help shrink my uterus. They had taken him away and started doing things to him, like clean him up and give him his Apgar score (9.9).  They also gave me some pain pills (after it was all over, ha!) I was finally finished, 27 hours after my contractions started. I hope the next time I have a baby it goes a little faster. Ryder arrived on June 9, the day after my mother-in-law’s birthday and the day before my dad’s birthday. We took pictures, which are inappropriate to share since I don’t have a stitch of clothing on. I had a breathing strip on the whole time I was laboring too—my nose is still not breathing well after my rhinoplasty back in July.
Jacob, before the birth, had said he was just going to stand at my head so he didn’t have to see anything. I think he imagined he would just be playing on his phone during labor. But it turned out he was involved in every step of the process, from massaging me through contractions to allowing me to clench his hands as I did squats to holding my legs as I pushed through contractions. He watched Ryder come out and was surprised at his greenish purplish color. He cut Ryder’s umbilical cord. He handled it all very well. Then they had me move to another bed, I could barely move and they had to help lift me, and they wheeled us down to our room. The next stage of our little family began.
Jacob says he looks swaddled.
little family 2little family

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ryder’s birth story

I can’t believe Ryder is two weeks old today. Already his birth feels like a distant memory…
June 5 was his due date, and right up until that date I still wasn’t ready for him to arrive mentally. My doula was out of town the preceding weekend, so I didn’t want him coming then. Yet when his due date came and passed, I found myself increasingly ready for him to come. I had Jacob try acupressure points on my feet and legs but nothing happened. By June 7 I began telling the baby, “It’s time for you to come. I’m ready for you.” I was unusually tired that day and took two naps. That evening I started getting discouraged, like he would never come. I was tearful and moody. I did some Kinect dance to try and shake him out. I had Jacob rub my feet again. I watched “The Breakfast Club” on Netflix.  It was around 4 am on June 8 at that point when I felt my first contraction. I didn’t know it was a contraction but I thought it might be. It felt like a backache. I called Jacob over and told him I thought I might have had a contraction. 10 minutes later, it came again. I would go on to have contractions 10 minutes apart until about nine o’clock that evening.
The contractions weren’t much different than period cramps and then got steadily stronger. I had Jacob fill a sock with rice and microwave it frequently as a little heating pad. I stayed in bed all day and when the contraction came, I blew raspberries to stay relaxed or I sang. I sang so many songs that day I can’t remember all of them. I sang “You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains,” by Josh Groban quite a bit. I sang some James Taylor and potentially some Simon and Garfunkel, but what really felt satisfying was to belt out “Porgi amor” from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. I only remembered after several renditions the translation of the Italian:
Porgi, amor, qualche ristoro,         O Love, give me some remedy
Al mio duolo, a'miei sospir!          For my sorrow, for my sighs!
O mi rendi il mio tesoro,             Either give me back my darling
O mi lascia almen morir.              Or at least let me die.

Here is Maria Callas, who frequented Bellas Artes herein Mexico city, performing it.

I suppose it was appropriate for laboring though I doubt that crossed Mozart’s mind.

Hot showers felt excellent. I was actually able to sleep much of the day. I would wake, sing through the contraction, and go to sleep again.

Jacob was very supportive through it all. He lost his phone the night I went into labor. Fortunately, he had all his phone numbers backed up including the doula’s and my doctor’s. He also bought $2000 worth of technology while I was laboring. LOL.  He told me I could call him an a**wipe during labor as my friend called her husband and he wouldn’t get mad at me. He gave me massages and shook my apples (ask me if you want to know what that does) and told me I was doing great. He made me my favorite avocado and mango milkshake Ethiopian style. Like this but blended: 51712Make_your_own_Ethiopian_Spris_Drink The contractions started taking all of my concentration around nine pm, and they were about 3-5 minutes apart. I called my doctor who suggested we wait an hour and then call again. I lost my mucus plug which was scary and exciting at the same time because I knew it was getting closer. I laid down. My contractions slowed. I knew to get them going again I needed to get up. I did, but they were so painful I started crying and wondered if I could keep this up. I hit three points of discouragement during labor, and each time it was when change was just around the corner. That happens in life a lot, doesn’t it? I told Jacob I was ready to go to the hospital. We gathered our bags, Jacob called a taxi, and I told my doctor and Glenda we were on our way.

To be continued… 

Letter to baby

looking at belly


The letter I wrote to the baby a couple of weeks before he arrived:

Dear Baby Boy:

One day, I imagine you’ll wonder what it was like to live inside my belly. By the time you ask, I’m afraid I’ll have forgotten. So let me tell you what your life was like before you were born:

Your life began on an island called Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. Your dad and I spent our days snorkeling, working on our computers, and experimenting making Caribbean food. We were staying in an apartment right on the beach. The water was warm and clear. Nearly everyone on the island spoke French and had dark skin.

The day I found out I was pregnant with you, I met a girl named Aurelie and I thought that might be a nice name for you, if you were a girl. I waited to tell your dad until the evening, when we went out to eat to celebrate our first date anniversary. It was October 13, Friday the 13th, and your dad and I went on our first date 5 years earlier. I was a little teary when I told him, but your dad just started laughing and saying “That’s crazy!” and he was obviously happy and he took my hand. I didn’t like the dinner I ordered that night—little did I know that it was a sign of a lost appetite for the next several months.

The day I first went to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy, our apartment owner began painting his apartments and decided he wanted to renovate the one we were staying in as well, got angry at your dad for not answering the door fast enough, and told us we had to move out.

Your dad voted that we move to Mexico City. I was leaning more towards Costa Rica because Mexico was supposed to be dangerous, but your dad thought that sounded boring. Thus your future nationality was determined.

Within a week we were there.

Your favorite food was string cheese. You did not like spicy foods. You wanted things bland. I didn’t normally eat meat, but I ate some about once a week just to cover my bases.

You made your mom very tired. And unusually calm.

When we first saw you and heard your heartbeat, I cried.

Your heartbeat was so fast that the conventional wisdom said you were a girl.

The next doctor’s appointment the doctor still thought you might be a girl at 14 weeks.

The doctor moved offices so we couldn’t confirm your gender since he didn’t have his ultrasound machine. We kept announcing we were about to find out whether you were a boy or a girl, only to have to say we still didn’t know. We had to wait til we got to Utah.

In Utah, we got a shock: you were, in fact, a boy. We had to start thinking of boys names. On the car ride home from the ultrasound, Jacob threw out “Ryder.” He was listing names of basketball players (Isaiah Rider prompted your name). We haven’t found anything we liked better.

The first time I remember you kicking was at my former voice teacher Dr Stripling’s house during Uncle Jack’s voice lesson at the end of January.

Your favorite time to kick was when your mom was trying to go to sleep. Your foot always kicks in the same place, in the right side of my belly. I like to push on it and you would push back or move away.

You got the hiccups a lot.

Your dad and I would wonder what you would look like, but we figured you would be blonde with green eyes, skinny and long like your dad.

We went to birth classes and we had a doula who helped us do exercises to prepare for your debut.

I prayed for you. I prayed you would be healthy. I prayed you would be able to enjoy our unusual lifestyle. I prayed we would love each other. I didn’t know what to expect when you arrived.

I hoped you would be healthy and happy despite anything I might do.

I hoped you and I would grow to be friends.

I cried sometimes worrying what being a mom would be like. But…

I knew that you were the fruit of your dad and I’s love. I love your dad very much, and I was happy that there would be another person like him to come into this world. I was scared, too, of course, because you were going to teach me how to be a parent. Nevertheless I knew I was supposed to be a mom, your mom, and that the greatest adventure of my life would be learning and growing with you.

These last 9 months have gone by so fast. I can’t believe I’m going to meet you in a couple of weeks.


Your mom

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Searching for a cooking solution


So since living in Mexico City I’ve been trying different recipes and I haven’t found my groove yet with my vegetarian meals. I did the crockpot for a while, but too many of the recipes had cream of mushroom soup in it and it got a little old. Furthermore, I think the crockpot is good for tenderizing meat, but it tends to make vegetables soggy.

Jacob got me an app called iCookbook with excellent pictures. I tried a few of the recipes, but none of them even came close to hitting the spot. It didn’t help there were really no reviews so how was I supposed to know if they were any good? The pictures always look good.

My next venture has been Emeals. Jacob has graciously started doing all the grocery shopping because carrying groceries home is too much for me at this point (past my due date.) Emeals is a great idea. It creates a week’s worth of meals using coupons and provides a ready-made grocery list. You can choose the grocery store you want, and you can choose the type of plan you want. It would be ideal, but here’s the thing…I chose the vegetarian plan and it seems very clear to me the person who makes the lists is definitely NOT a vegetarian.

*Begin Gripe*

The recipes so far have been disappointing. For example: one of the recipes this last week was “Potato wedges.” Sliced potatoes served with some onions. That is not going to be appealing to anyone looking for a healthy dinner. Another one, though I suppose it was tasty enough, was just a fruit salad…for the main course. I just can’t imagine actually serving my family that for dinner.

The most amusing thing is that so many of the recipes include fake meat. Meatless sausage, meatless chicken, and so on. First of all that stuff is not for sale here in Mexico. Second of all, it just seems so clear that a meat-loving person is coming up with these recipes, a meat-loving person who is too lazy to find out how most vegetarians get their protein (such as tofu, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans and lentils, dairy). Furthermore it doesn’t acknowledge the fact that many (most?) vegetarians actually don’t like the taste of meat and that’s why they are vegetarians. Hence fake sausage will be unappealing. Vegetarians may be that way purely for the animal cruelty aspect, while still longing for the taste of meat, but that’s kind of presumptuous to assume in their recipes.

Also, many of the recipes use “egg substitute.” Perhaps they are trying to please the vegan customers (if so they should call their plan vegan and not vegetarian), but I googled “why use egg substitute” and the reason is mostly because eggs are high in cholesterol. But most vegetarians do not have high cholesterol; in fact they probably need more in their diets, so eggs are an excellent source of protein for them.

Then there is the final problem of how to cook for both Jacob and I. Fish is normally a good middle ground for us, but I have been trying to only eat fish a couple times per week at the most since being pregnant. Plus Mexico City’s fish doesn’t always look too appealing. This recipe book, Dave's Anabolic Cookbook has recipes for bodybuilders. I’ve been making recipes from here for Jacob for breakfast and my vegetarian dinners at night. Still looking for the right balance there too. It’s not always easy anyway since Jacob sleeps during the day so when I make him breakfast it’s really my dinnertime anyway.

So, I will keep using Emeals until my subscription runs out. Until then, my search for a satisfactory solution to cooking vegetarian continues…

Friday, June 1, 2012

Jacob's Ayn Rands thoughts...

Since Kalli talked some Ayn Rand... I'd take some time to organize my thoughts so far on her philosophies...

I really like her emphasis on individual purpose and creation in life.

I appreciate how she glorifies our own ability to create... HERE AND NOW.. and how she creates a world in which human purpose and creation is so exalted.

I think she's speaks some half truths about human selfishness.

To a real sense, and whether we want to admit it or not... we all "look out for #1".

And it's fine to be successful, and even selfish to the degree that you aren't harming others.

I agree with Rand that the hate for successful, rich, and even "healthy" selfishness has gotten a bit skued.

To some degree, as Rand points out, our selfish interests CAN (not always) lead to innovations and productivity that blesses arbitrarily those around us.  It's the enlightened self interest idea.  And I think it's real.

However, "practicing selfishness" in every aspect and small issue in life... will only undermine your happiness.

Rand says that each man is the hero of his own story, and that his ultimate goal is happiness, and his means are rational thought.

I think we must BALANCE selfishness and altruism... Rand says altruism, is evil... the world says selfishness is evil... I think we need some of both.

If selfishness is evil then we should hate ourselves, and that's not good... for anyone.

I think Ayn Rand also underestimates man's social nature and how sociality is such a main contribution to happiness.

When we practice altruism... if only in small things... we beginning to see others as benevolent as well and that shapes our entire world view.

The opposite is also true.  If you rob and cheat others... you will eventually  believe others will rob and cheat you and paranoia will results.

If you help others (not even to your own detriment) you will eventually see others as helpful and kind... in general.

I'm not saying you'll be completely brainwashed... but I'm saying that how you act shapes your outlook and how you view the world around you.

I do think that you shouldn't sacrifice yourself to the point of your own unhappiness .. in general.  And that doing so also will hurt those around you.

If anything I think that economic policy should favor helping people innovate, and avoid creating systems that reward something other than productivity.  That can only encourage insidious trends.

Lastly, I think the idea of serving your own purposes... is NOT good for business.

1. If you think and understand others, and know how to serve them... you can become wealthy.  IMHO... but if you are so blinded by your own desires and don't understand others... you could be stuck in the mud.

2. Even if you are completely engrossed in some greatly innovative project (an Ayn Rand hero)... but if no one cares... you can't be wealthy and succeed, and will ultimately by like her beggars and looters. 

I'm just saying it's possible that your selfish interests AREN'T enlightened.. in some cases, and that you'll be stuck.  So you should try and align one or more of your many interests with that of the benefit of others... boom.. harmony ;)

Anyways, just some thoughts on the controversial Rand philosophies.

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