Happy Mother’s Day to Me: You made it

This guest post is by Chanler Jeffers, who blogs with the belief we all can make a difference in the world around us. She dishes up inspiration and food for thought at TeamJeffers.com. In this Happy Mother’s Day to Me series, mothers are celebrating themselves for the dedicated, loving, tireless mamas they are. Check out all the posts in the series!


 

Happy Mother's Day You Made ItHello, Beautiful—

Look at you.

You made it. Twenty-one years have passed, and somehow you made it.

Your tiny baby is now a beautiful young woman, despite everything that came in between.  Who knew, starting out, how extraordinarily difficult this journey would be? Certainly not you, because life spun you a different story than what you’d written for yourself, didn’t it?

Remember at the beginning—the discomfort as your tiny baby grew inside of you? How her feet and arms and head pushed bits and pieces of you aside that you never even knew existed? Remember how it felt she was not only crowding your body, but your very soul, as she slowly came to exist? Remember how you had to shift at night, to try and get some rest? And remember all those silly worries you had? That your baby would be ugly? Physically ugly? Remember that one? Remember how terrible it made you feel to admit that, because you knew how shallow it made you seem? You were still worried, though—weren’t you?

And remember those first labor pains? They made perfect sense somehow, but they were still so foreign. And the birth. Merciful God… how do we endure that as women? That quiet nod, and tight smile—you can always tell when a woman has given birth as she faces a newly pregnant woman, can’t she? As if to say, “Just wait, hon. You have no idea, but you’ll be okay. We all have to do it.”

Then came the difficulties no one tells you about. The having to discipline, even when you’re exhausted and unsure. The constant demands, the constant wondering if you’re doing the right thing, the constant worry that your child will end up a failure because of something you have or haven’t known how to do.

But guess what? You made it, Beautiful. She’s launched.

And even though her life wasn’t perfect, and absolutely nothing at all turned out the way you wanted, or hoped or expected on that long-ago day you brought her home from the hospital, you did it. Read more

A poem for my water bottle

When Peeper was born, the folks at the hospital gave me a giant double insulated water jug. I reveled in its 28 ounce capacity and brought it everywhere. I drank water like it was my job because, for a breastfeeding mama, it was my job!

Then one bad no good horrible day, I left the jug on top of the car and drove away. The jug was smashed. My heart was smashed. I missed that hunk of plastic for months.

I told this story to the nurses at the hospital where I delivered Kiwi. Not only did they gift me a new one, they gave me two.

Maybe they were angling to get Kiwi named after them.

Well played, nurses.

Anyway, the other night I was trying to keep myself awake and amused as Kiwi nursed, so I composed a little ditty in honor of my favorite drinking receptacle. (What, isn’t that what everyone does?) I give you:

My Giant Water Jug

You’re my beautiful big water jug
Night and day you allow me to chug a lug
I fill you with ice
Splash in water so nice
And continue to breastfeed my little bug

Now I’ll just wait for the poetry contracts to roll in.

Welcome to the world, Kiwi!

Baby Kiwi is born! Ten Thousand Hour MamaWe are beyond thrilled that our sweet, darling Kiwi has joined us!

Maxine Elizabeth Griffin Gregory was born Sunday, July 19, though it took us until minutes before discharge before settling on her name.

“Kiwi is a beautiful name!” the pediatrician on the floor reassured us. “You could always stick with Kiwi.”

I spent most of my labor at home, using HypnoBirthing breathing techniques, baking cookies (but leaving plenty of raw dough to eat after delivery!) and trying to sleep. My mom arrived to watch Peeper at the perfect time—just when I knew we needed to head to the hospital. We were a few minutes away from Labor and Delivery when they told us they were on divert, so we turned around and drove across town to another one.

Thank goodness we went on a Sunday and there was no traffic, because Kiwi was born an hour later.

Meeting the new baby - Ten Thousand Hour MamaShe and I are both healthy, and we were fortunate to avoid complications and interventions. We have been spending the last few days getting to know each other as a new family of four!

Peeper is very excited to be a big sister. She wants to help with diaper changes, watch Kiwi breastfeed and bring toys—though she’s having a hard time sharing some things (e.g. Mom’s lap and the Moses basket, of all things).

Thank you for all your support, encouragement and kind words over the last 40 weeks. I feel so very lucky to bring Kiwi into a world where love, compassion, empathy and love are the rule.

Mama baby skin to skin

How I’m preparing for childbirth

preparing for childbirth second pregnancy

“Mama has a big big big big belly!” Peeper shouted the other morning as I went to lift her out of the crib. In fact, that was the very first thing out of her mouth. And it’s the first thing that crosses my mind when I wake up in the morning.

If anything reminds me that I’ll soon be giving birth to our second daughter, it’s this giant belly—the bump that takes up so much room, there’s no place for Peeper to sit on my lap anymore. (Never fear, though; we still read and read and read—she just sits next to me most of the time.)

When I was pregnant with Peeper, Eric and I attended a childbirth preparation class at the hospital where we’d deliver. Most first-time parents do, and I learned a lot. Although some of the exercises were a little ridiculous (FYI, holding an ice cube in your hand does NOT mimic the discomfort of labor!), it was helpful overall and I’d recommend it to other parenting newbies.

This go around, though, I didn’t need a primer on the different stages of labor or what our pain relief options would be. I’m prepping for childbirth, then, in a little different way. Here’s how.

Reading. I already know what to expect, so my reading list has changed since my first pregnancy. Currently on my bedside table:

  • Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful by Gurmukh. I appreciate the Kundalini yoga instructor’s take on pregnancy, which was less medically oriented and more about gently transitioning into motherhood. Yes, I’m already a mama, but I welcomed the reminders (and the short-short chapters!).
  • HypnoBirthing by Marie Mongan. This childbirth technique/philosophy is founded on the idea that much of the pain of labor and delivery stems from fear and resistance: that the body’s physiological reaction to fear fights the opening and relaxation needed for a smooth birth. That idea resonated with me, as I was definitely scared—really scared—during Peeper’s birth. The book is full of techniques, which are pretty much mindfulness meditations, meant to make labor easier on mama and baby.
  • Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Farber and Elaine Mazlish. It’ll be a while before Peeper and Kiwi are arguing over who borrowed whose skirt, but I wanted to adopt techniques to keep the peace early. I found the book’s format a little odd (it basically recounts the author’s experiences teaching a class), but it makes for a quick read, and the illustrations and chapter recaps are helpful for remembering the various tips.

Breathing. Of course I breathe, but I’ve been practicing HypnoBirthing breathing techniques during contractions (or, as the program calls them, uterine surges) and whenever I remember—like when I’m trying to fall asleep. I’m hoping that all the practice will make the breathing techniques second nature by the time I go into labor.

Meditating. I’ve never been big into meditation—I always found my monkey mind jumped around to a million to-do tasks, leaving me more flustered than when I began—but a calm, inward focus is helping me connect to this baby.

Most of the day, my attention is on my toddler or my work or the bajillion things I can never catch up to. But a few times a day—especially right before bed—I tune into Kiwi. I send her love or talk to her in my head. I dab lavender essential oil on my chest and deepen my breathing. I imagine my breaths are waves rolling in and out like the tide. Or I envision myself as a tree, drawing in strength from the ground with each inhale and exhaling stress.

Perhaps it sounds woo-woo, but it really helps. I also plan to draw on these techniques during labor.

Letting go. Well, this one is aspirational. I alternate between wanting to DO ALL THE THINGS and just throwing up my hands and saying eff it. We still have a long list of nest-y things to do, like paint and put up those shelves that have been sitting in the garage for, oh, four months, but I’ve (sort of) made peace with the fact most of them won’t happen.

So I’m prioritizing. We recently set up a new desk in the office, which is necessary for my work, and I started packing my hospital bag (which is much lighter the second time around!). Today I brought in the infant car seat to clean and install. These things are important; sewing a baby quilt can wait.

I figure letting go is great practice for when I have two kids: I simply won’t have time or energy to do it all—or even half the stuff I want to do—so I’ll be a pro at letting things slide in no time.

I’m curious—if you have kids, how did you prepare for childbirth? Was prepping for later kids different from your first?

Own your c-section birth story

Now that I’ve entered the club of motherhood, I’ve noticed a lot of women feeling judged (by others and themselves) because they birthed their baby via c-section. Research also shows that dissatisfaction with your child’s birth is linked to postpartum depression, so I felt compelled to address the issue of women feeling as if they had failed by having a child surgically.

I wrote this piece for Fit Pregnancy about how to come to peace—and even embrace—your birth story. I talked with Brooke Kyle, MD, an OB who delivered all three of her kids in the OR.

“I do feel like there are a lot of pressures in my community and nationally that make people feel like their birth is less worthy if they have to choose a c-section, like they’re less of a mother and they didn’t try hard enough,” Dr. Kyle told me. “I even feel those pressures because I aim for a vaginal birth in my practice and that’s what I’m known for. The goal for my patients is to get a vaginal birth, and that was the plan for myself, too.”

Yet childbirth is unpredictable, and many of the things we script out—delivering vaginally, opting for a home birth, going med-free—change.

(A quick aside: Childbirth can be traumatic. It’s important to recognize that many women have a difficult time, and that a bouncing bairn is not the only legitimate concern. Validating mothers’ conflicted feelings around childbirth and their birth story shows them that they’re valued, too—that their worth is not limited to bringing a child into the world at any cost.)

Kyle shared with me a few tips on how she kicked the disappointment of delivering via cesarean and came to love her birth story.

Did you feel disappointed in how your child’s birth went? (No judgment here.) How did you come to terms with it?

Own your c-section birth story

Now that I’ve entered the club of motherhood, I’ve noticed a lot of women feeling judged (by others and themselves) because they birthed their baby via c-section. Research also shows that dissatisfaction with your child’s birth is linked to postpartum depression, so I felt compelled to address the issue of women feeling as if they had failed by having a child surgically.

I wrote this piece for Fit Pregnancy about how to come to peace—and even embrace—your birth story. I talked with Brooke Kyle, MD, an OB who delivered all three of her kids in the OR.

“I do feel like there are a lot of pressures in my community and nationally that make people feel like their birth is less worthy if they have to choose a c-section, like they’re less of a mother and they didn’t try hard enough,” Dr. Kyle told me. “I even feel those pressures because I aim for a vaginal birth in my practice and that’s what I’m known for. The goal for my patients is to get a vaginal birth, and that was the plan for myself, too.”

Yet childbirth is unpredictable, and many of the things we script out—delivering vaginally, opting for a home birth, going med-free—change.

(A quick aside: Childbirth can be traumatic. It’s important to recognize that many women have a difficult time, and that a bouncing bairn is not the only legitimate concern. Validating mothers’ conflicted feelings around childbirth and their birth story shows them that they’re valued, too—that their worth is not limited to bringing a child into the world at any cost.)

Kyle shared with me a few tips on how she kicked the disappointment of delivering via cesarean and came to love her birth story.

Did you feel disappointed in how your child’s birth went? (No judgment here.) How did you come to terms with it?