I know that I bust the wool-lined chops of my kids’ hippie school, but it’s done with the utmost affection. To outsiders it looks like my kids are spending all day gardening, playing in the woods and knitting, but somehow they’re also learning math, spelling and amazing life skills (for instance, teaching mommy how to garden and knit).
My four-year-old daughter is entering her second year of pre-school and before the semester begins her teacher has a home visit with every student. It’s meant to be an informal opportunity to see the child on his or her own turf, but as a parent it’s the most stressful day of the year.
You see, the school has certain expectations for younger kids in particular—excessive television/computer time is discouraged, as are mountains of plastic/electronic toys—and for the most part, I’ve been completely on board. There is a noticeable difference in both of my kids when we limit their TV and two years ago I donated a dozen garbage bags of toys that they have yet to miss.
But then it happened: summer vacation. Two days in, I was going crazy. Four days in, I was negotiating reading practice for TV time with my son. Two months in, as I write this, I can hear them watching cartoons downstairs, as they shoot their plastic guns, with nary a book in sight. All of my best hippie-inspired intentions have gone down the crapper.
Yesterday afternoon when my daughter’s teacher showed up for our home visit, this is what she found:
1) Me, with my ass up in the air as I frantically swept crumbs from under the table.
2) My son, shoving his cache of weapons under his bed.
3) My daughter, proudly showing off her bedroom. Specifically, the airline blanket from our recent trip that she now uses as a bedspread, as well as the Barbie Party Bus stuffed with naked Barbies and one terrified-looking Ken.
We then sat down to discuss our respective summers until my daughter hijacked the conversation to summarize the cartoons and movies she had watched over the past few weeks.
After exhausting that list, my daughter began imitating her brother by running in circles yelling, “Fuggit!” (pronounced with a very hard G) in lieu of fuhgeddaboudit.
This was followed by a ten-minute soliloquy about her fabulous Puh-see, and since I’m fairly certain that this teacher has never read my blog, she had no way of knowing that Puh-see is how my daughter pronounces Percy, a little green train that is the bane of my existence.
We finished off the visit with my daughter introducing the teacher to a stuffed pig that—for some unknown reason*—she named Honky.
Thankfully, my daughter’s teacher is one of the exceedingly cool (or is it groovy?) hippies. She once told me that she would only believe half of what our kid told her if we would do the same.
As of yesterday, I’m going to need that deal in writing.
*We do not watch, nor do we emulate, sitcoms from the 70s. I’m hoping thinking it’s because she goes around honking its nose.
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“I always wonder if people think I was too posh to push,” a friend tells me when we discuss her c-section, planned and carried out because her first baby was in a breech position. She laughs it off but I wonder how often those thoughts play on her mind, whether she feels cheated out of a ‘normal’ birth experience.
I read this the other day and so much of the author’s opinion rang true. My own experience of birth saw my fantasies of labouring in water with only gas and air for pain relief turn, over an agonising 24-hour period, into a nightmare of heart decelerations, an emergency caesarean and the longest three minutes of my life, before my baby’s cries finally rang out in the operating theatre. The day I was discharged from hospital my consultant made her rounds and asked me my feelings on having had a c-section. I didn’t know what to say – I hadn’t really given it any thought. In the haze of pain medication, breastfeeding and hormones all I knew was that I was tired and glad my baby was alive and well.
But over the weeks and months that followed, my experience began to play on my mind. I felt robbed of a normal delivery – and like the author of the aforementioned article, I listened to other women’s birth stories feeling like an outsider, like some sort of fraud. In the beginning, I was so disappointed I couldn’t even talk about it. It wasn’t all in my head either – on recounting tales of when I gave birth, a colleague of my husband’s remarked that I didn’t actually ‘give birth’ to my son. It cut me to the bone – I felt I had failed, that my body had let me down, that I had missed a rite of passage into motherhood.
Even my own mother didn’t understand my fixation with my birth experience – “you’ve got a healthy baby, that’s all that matters,” she would say. And of course she was right – the wellbeing of my son was and will always be of paramount importance. But does that mean I shouldn’t mourn the loss of the birth I wanted and had tried to prepare for all those months? Is it greedy and selfish of me to wish that I’d had a healthy baby and a normal birth?
For months after my son was born I was obsessed with thoughts of conceiving again so that I could have another go at giving birth naturally, and while these feelings did fade, I still feel regret at the way he entered the world and often torture myself with ‘what ifs’ – would the outcome have been different if I’d done more yoga in pregnancy, rested more in labour, held off on having an epidural a bit longer?
While I accept there is nothing I can do to change my past experience, I do think a lot about what I will decide to do next time around. After my son was born my consultant said there was no reason for me not to try again next time and I must admit I am sorely tempted by the idea of VBAC and a chance to correct my previous ‘wrongs’. But that desire is tempered by a fear of what will happen if history repeats itself – could I cope with another emergency c-section? I know for sure that I do not want another long labour that ends up in surgery but I’m not sure I could forgive myself for not giving it another go.
In this Catch-22 situation the concept of natural c-section is reassuring; the thought that if I did opt for another caesarean I could be more involved in my baby’s birth. For me the procedure would go some way towards bridging the gap beween vaginal delivery and caesarean as I experienced it but additionally, and perhaps more importantly, its advent is an acknowledgement of the fact that caesarean birth as it exists now is difficult for mums in terms of physical recovery, bonding with their baby and also emotionally. And perhaps that’s what’s really needed – a real acknowledgement that caesarean section is never an easy way out would perhaps stop mums like me from feeling in some way less valid. The ‘too posh to push’ brigade have a lot to answer for.
Among the most embarrassing side effects if not the most related to pregnancy is the often urge to go to the women restroom. I`m usually doing this more often in the middle of the night and I have even dreamed about looking for a restroom desperately when I was in a crowded public place.
What is it about pregnancy that causes this side effect? Well, according to the Baby Center website, “the amount of blood in your body increases dramatically when you get pregnant, which leads to a lot of extra fluid getting processed through your kidneys and ending up in your bladder.” Later on in pregnancy, the growing uterus will put pressure on the bladder that will cause even more frequent urges.
Here are some helpful tips to alleviate this problem:
- Avoid drinks that act as diuretic such as coffee and tea. (Alcohol can also act as a diuretic but you shouldn’t be drinking that now for more important reasons.)
- I find that limiting how much I drink later at night will help eliminate nightly trips to the restroom. Just make sure you are getting plenty to drink during the rest of the day.
- Make every trip count and be sure to completely empty your bladder. Leaning forward slightly will help.
- Doing Kegel exercises can help strengthen your pelvic muscles that will give you better continence; however, don’t ignore the urge to go for too long as a distended bladder can cause even more problems.
- Keep a positive attitude. One mom claims that the nightly trips to the bathroom is God’s way of preparing a mom for the sleep interruptions that the new baby is sure to bring.