Sunday, September 30, 2007

Playing soccer

Liam loves soccer. I've never seen a kid play a sport where he's smiling the whole time.

See my only tooth?

The other is nearly through. I think she and Liam are on the same schedule.

last bits of summer

The funnelweb spiders have been going gangbusters this year thanks to the dry weather. I tried so hard to actually catch the spider in the picture, but he was just far enough in his hole that I couldn't.

I did, however, catch this bee on one of my flowers. Not that I remember what the name of this plant is...but I love the big blooms on it.

Four years old

Jonah was so excited to have his birthday party at school. He was SO serious when it came time to actually have the celebration.

Here he is on his actual birthday:
See? I'm four and outside...and you're not!
So serious on the rainbow bridge

Another one bites the dust

His second tooth fell out tonight. What a great smile he'll have for picture day!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thoughts on Birth, The Play and BE BOLD (very long)

Yet another month has slipped past faster than sand through an hourglass. I somehow managed to survive this month, though I think I did so only because I cried. A lot. There have been many sleepless nights and much soul searching going on this past month, yet I don't feel like I'm any closer to where I want to be than I was when this month began. For those of you here for family updates (all is well, kids are growing), I'll post that separately...maybe tomorrow, Scarlett. Tonight, I need to put text to screen in an effort to process tonight's play. If you care about birth ( thoughts on it, anyway), read on...Otherwise, I see you again soon, my friends. Hopefully with pictures, because, kids are cute. :)

Tonight was a presentation of the play Birth, by Karen Brody. I had previously seen the play as performed by our birth network last fall. It was moving then as performed by members of several chapters of our organization for a small group of us from out of state and those locals attending the conference that preceded the day. Tonight's performance was well-rehearsed and planned and incredibly well done as a part of BE BOLD (birth on labor day) going on across the country this month. Next weekend is the Red Tent Event that goes along with the play. Following the play was a panel of speakers -- an OB/Gyn, a certified nurse midwife, a doula/childbirth educator, and an independent (homebirth) midwife. During the play, listening to the characters tell the stories of their births and how they got there, the frustration I have with the current system of maternity care and how our society treats birth really got to me. The play details the stories of several women, all of whom could be any low-risk woman seeking maternity care, and their journeys through birth. The main character goes from being a spectator in the process to a real participant empowered by the birth of her fourth child. There are a variety of experiences portrayed, from the "I want to schedule my c-section," to the closet "my body rocks" unmedicated birther, to the woman with an episiotomy forced on her. They talk candidly about how their labors and births affected them and the actions of those around them during the process, and it was easy to get emotionally involved and wonder how these women got to where they were.

Everything I've experienced as a human being has helped to shape who I am. My own birth, my childhood, having two loving parents who cared about me and believed I could do anything I set my mind to and put me to doing just that, losing one of those parents before I'd really become an adult (or really got to know who he was for that matter), finding that one person who I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with (and who would want to do likewise), and, at least for now, growing and birthing three beautiful children in a way that celebrates them as human beings and not as a medical event. I could go further on how raising those children even still is moulding my beliefs and being...but that's for another day. But thinking back on the births of my children, what I different person I could be if they had gone differently. If I hadn't cared. If I didn't believe that "My body rocks." If I'd put all my trust into a system that has acknowledged that it's broken. Realizing that, and that there are women out there every day who don't believe in their bodies and put their faith in a broken system...well, it just breaks my heart because I know what they are missing out on.

I never pegged my mom as being a feminist (and I know she'll say that she's not). It's not like I grew up listening to Gloria Steinem or anything. But growing up she did want me to be proud of my being a woman. As a woman, I can do things a man can't do. I can carry a baby and give birth. She always spoke matter-of-factly about my and my sister's births. She never made it sound scary, nor did she talk about it in an ethereal, Ina May Gaskin kind of way. It was something that was hard work, but was a part of what you did as a woman becoming a mother. I got the feeling that she was proud of her body's ability to do what it did....and the fact that she birthed a breech vaginally, which was well on its way out when my sister came into the world ass backward. She never talked about womanly things as something to be ashamed of. Never made it sound like it was something you just put into the hands of a doctor and said, "'s up to you. What do I do now?" So surely this has something to do with my own confidence in my body to do what Mother Nature gladly made it able to. What of those women who didn't have that growing up? If they have confidence where does it come from? If they don't have it...are they capable of finding it on their own without having a horrible experience to learn from first?

I usually have a table at baby fairs either for my own childbirth services or for our network, and I'm completely blown away every time by the women who don't know that they have choices to them in labor, that birth can be a beautiful, empowering process (even if you're not crunchy like me), that the folks in white coats (or scrubs) are human and do make mistakes and are many times misinformed, that it's your job as a healthcare consumer to figure all this out and know the right questions to ask, and that some of what the healthcare machine usually does is for its own convenience (and to save their asses) and not what's best for mom and baby. Sometimes I just want to scream at them to take charge of their bodies before someone else does...and does things to it that they won't like.

On top of this...I have been having the "where do I belong?" debate. Tonight's panel with the four attendants really was my list of options (well...there wasn't a family practice/OB, but close enough with the OB/Gyn as far as education goes). None of them seems to stick out as the perfect option, except that they are all where my heart is -- involved with birthing families. I'm only a step away from medical school, and right now, with all the second-guessing I've been doing elsewhere in my life, I'm completely scared about making the leap into medical school only to find out that it was the wrong move. On the other hand, being a physician would lend me more credibility and hopefully more power to do something, only partly because if it comes from the mouth of a physician, must be golden. Midwifery speaks to my heart because it is the epitome of how I wish to practice. With woman. Guiding her. Helping her. But CNMs in our state can't legally do homebirths, and it's hard to find docs to work with. Some of our nurse midwives were having a hard time keeping their jobs due to budget cutbacks. Funny how the hands on approach that saves money is the first thing to get the axe. Then there's the independent midwifery, which would guarantee fantastic births to go to, but doesn't effect much in the way of change (well...except maybe making homebirth more of an option, but the population who's interested in that is much, much smaller than a majority). Then there's the educator/doula. A holding pattern, as that's right where I'm at. I could just chuck the whole thing and hang out with the status quo indefinitely. Keep teaching and attending births, knowing that I can only educate to a point and that it's really up to the caregiver that the woman has chosen as to how her birth will go. Keep running the network and hope that women will somehow start to get the message that they need to be informed and will take the initiative to do just that before they have a bad experience. At this point, it's a good thing my scores are good for a while yet. The above are only the considerations of choosing which would be the best option for effecting change. This debate doesn't even include familial considerations, which is a whole 'nother crap shoot.

As far as the panel went, once the four were introduced, no one in the audience seemed anxious to ask questions. Out of a room of probably 150 people, I raised my hand first and threw out a question to the OB (brave of me to dive in like that? Or just nuts. The latter, I think.). Asked her what she saw for future medical students who believe in normal birth and if she thought it possible to get through medical school and still believe that normal birth is possible. She seemed to think so, which was heartening. Yet...she was still the first one to throw out the danger, danger scenario when it comes to VBAC and states that she can't work with moms who choose homebirth because of liability. There were several other questions, which the panelists gladly answered, and most of it came down to recognizing that the system is broken, but no one really knows how to fix it. No one can really practice the way they should because of liability. Truly is a pity. Hubby tells me if I really want to effect change that I'm looking into the wrong career, but if there's one thing I'm not cut out's politics (or insurance!).

If you've gotten this far, congratulations. I know it probably was a bit disconcerted, but it is 2 a.m. after all and dash-it-all but I'm tired. Thanks for listening. We now go back to our regularly scheduled dysfunction.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sunday, September 02, 2007

First Wednesday in Rome

When we last left our brave travelers, they were taking a nap in their hotel room.....

So after our nap, we got up and showered. Our bathroom was not actually attached to our room but was out in the hall across from the flat's door. The bathroom was new and interesting. There was both a toilet and a bidet (I never have figured out how you're supposed to use that thing...seems a bit awkward, if you ask me). The shower head was mounted on the side of the shower wall on the longest wall of the shower (whereas here, most of us have our showerhead mounted on the shortest wall of the tub. I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture of it, since we didn't have this room the whole time. The water was not consistently hot, but was definitely hot enough and quite welcome after travel and nap. We dressed, met up with our flat mates, and set out to start exploring.

In the streets of Rome

In the alley (it's a technically street, but really...skinny enough for one car to get down) our hotel entrance was on, there were a few shops, a couple of pubs, a restaurant, and a pizza shop. We stopped into the pizza shop and browsed. The pizza was on display behind glass under hot lamps, and there were several different varieties, and the pies were all rectangular in shape. There were also other calzones and goodies, but I was all about the pizza. We weren't sure how we were supposed to order, and our pizza guy didn't speak English, so we motioned how much we wanted of a couple of different types. Everything I thought I'd learned in listening to my CDs all went out the window. All the ingredients on the pizza were fresh (no canned tomato sauce here!), and the crust was like a flat bread. Cliff and I shared some fresh tomato and mozzarella pizza, and I also chose some that looked like sausage with a tomato sauce. There was no cheese on it. After taking a bite, I was quite surprised to realize that it wasn't sausage at all but tunafish! And it was amazing. The tomato sauce was creamy, like there was some cheese in it, and the tuna had a kick to it. So we wandered up the street to Santa Maria Maggiore, a large church with a lovely square, and encountered our first beggar who had a baby that was not much older than Corinna. Seeing that we were obviously tourists, she asked for money. We took photos and decided to push on.

The square at Santa Maria Maggiore

The church Santa Maria Maggiore

We then wandered down past the Domus Aurea (which you can tour if you sign up ahead of time), which was in a park-like area and down toward the Colosseum. As we approached, I was taken aback at how enormous it was. It was early afternoon, and we decided to take a look around. A woman approached us and asked us if we were interested in taking a tour, and we thought about it and decided to go. Our guide was a Brit, and he gave us the lowdown on its history and was quite enjoyable to listen to. We climbed the stairs once inside and got a great view over the surrounding area and the Arch of Constantine.

Excavating at Domus Aurea

See how little I am compared to the Colossal Colosseum?

After our tour, our guide let us know about another tour of the Palatine Hill that would be going on right after with another English speaking guide. We decided to go and do that one also. Here, we learned about this being the site where Romulus, the founder of Rome, and Remus, his twin, were found. This was also the site of Augustus's birth and the palace of his wife and Domitian's palace. The sun was beginning to get low in the sky, and the light was spectacular. I just kept being blown away by the ancientness of it all. Our tour guide, Elaine, was a Canadian and a pleasure to listen to. We decide to do her tour of the catacombs the next day.

Inside the Colosseum

Arch of Constantine

How Miss C. traveled Italy

Domitian's Circus

On Palatine Hill

After Palatine Hill, we walked back toward the hotel and decide to eat at the restaurant down the street from where we are staying. It's not a large restaurant, and the server was quick to help us out. He asks us if we would like water, and we agree. We get a bottle and it turned out to be effervescent. If you want plain mineral water in Italy, you have to ask for water with no gas. I decided to try some of the house red, and was not exactly excited about it. So much for thinking that wine in Italy would really taste that much different. For my primi I ordered the bucatini amatriciana, which was penne with bacon and tomato cheese sauce. Yum. For my secondi, I ordered a breaded veal and greens, which turned out to be wilted spinach. I think I was expecting a salad, but the spinach was good. We then went up the street to Cottini, a little pasticheria/gelateria with a lovely outdoor seating area. We went in and ordered gelato (I got the chocolate, hubby got the braccio (he remembers what it is and I don't at the moment) and ate it topped with unsweetened whipped cream from frosted cups garnished with cookies at the outdoor tables. Corinna went into spasms of delight and excitement at our cups of gelato and was determined she would get some.

Yeah...that's what I was feeling too.

After our meal, we walked back in the cool night air to our hotel flat and crashed hard. It was a long first day.

By the way...this is only a small sampling of the pictures I took. I have nearly 450 photos (and I don't feel like I took nearly enough), so I had to really pick and choose what to post here. It's really hard to choose representative photos when there are so many that I liked. Hope you all enjoy!


For Liam's birthday, he requested a skateboard, and Grandma C. delivered. Of course, I couldn't get Liam one and not get the other daredevil one too. I could just see the fighting if I didn't get Jonah a skateboard. After all...he does all his own stunts. (gotta get a pic of him in that T-shirt).

Mean mommy that I am, I made them wear pads and helmets too.

"When do I get my skateboard?" When you stop eating grass, I think.

Both boys are also playing soccer this year, but I've only got pics of Jonah at the moment. Because they both play on the same morning within an hour of each other, I haven't been able to get to Liam's practices yet. Pics of that upcoming.

Look what I lost!

He pulled in while riding in grandma B's car, and called me to tell me about it as I was driving to work. He nearly squealed into the phone he was so excited. He'll be driving next week.

First Day of School!

Jonah started school first and was rarin' to go. He just hopped right into the meadow like he had been going there for years. The days following the first day weren't nearly as smooth. "They keep me away from my mommy for too long." As time is progressing, he seems to be doing better. He hums the songs they learn on the way home from school, and this makes me happy. And really, he's not as serious as his pictures make him look. I just can't seem to catch him when he's smiling. Something about my slowing him down to take pictures seems to get on his nerve. Who knew?

Liam was so excited for his first day and first ride on the big yellow bus that he was out waiting for it a half hour before he needed to be. He seems to be fitting right on in and has already made some new friends.

Look! A mostly finished bathroom!

The powder room is 90% done. Just needs a mirror, paper holder, and outlet/switchplate covers. The walls are a lovely shade of pale purple. Thanks to handy FIL and hubby, who did a great job on the tilework and plumbing in this room.

Got a new camera!

A Pentax K100D. To say it's cool would not do it justice. Got signed up for a one-on-one camera class sometime soon.

I finally finished listening to this (and the last one too! Wow! How much I love this series):

And to say that Jim Dale is good is an understatement. He does the voices of all the characters in the books, and really, he rocks. I want to listen to them all again from the start and try to pick up on things that I may have missed first time around. the new camera because the old one took a dump and so I would have a good camera to take to births. It has shake reduction for low light pictures. I took this one with only the light from the lamp.

Hello old friend...

so nice to see you again! Yeah, I know. Went MIA again. Wish I had new excuses for ya, but really, it's the same old thing. We're creeping toward being ready to move. Floors are still holding us up, and the kitchen's not done, but it's at least moving in the right direction. Because I'm low on time, posts will be mostly photographic and not so much on the text.