Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Something about today has me teetering on the verge of tears.

Watching my husband help my baby unwrap presents this morning filled my heart with a joy that is so much deeper and richer than I could have ever imagined possible. And I had some big expectations!

I wonder if these moments of overwhelming love and joy are more intense because of everything that we went through to get to here... If the highs are higher because the lows were so low.

We will be celebrating my dear boy's second birthday on Friday and it takes me right back to Christmas two years ago, while we were patiently awaiting his arrival. It takes me right back to the day that Mr Fox got the phone call telling him we were pregnant. Right back to the hope that I felt in the weeks between our transfer and that phone call. and to the raw consuming heartache of infertility that had lived in our home for the preceding years. I was always on the verge of tears then.

I can't help but think today about all of the amazing women who i 'met' during those tragic years, the beautiful children who are now unwrapping presents in their homes this morning, and that feeling of gratitude overwhelms me again, spilling down my cheeks.

I realize today that our experience will forever define us as a family, not just as a shared experience of grief and loss, but also as a shared experience of eternal gratitude joy and overwhelming love.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

politics of parenting

I just read a fabulous post by  Kelly Hannum at As a mew mom, struggling to manage the chaos of work and home, I have a newfound interest in the discussions about Leaning In (Sheryl Sandberg's book) or being Maxed Out (Katrina Alcorn's book).
Kelly says it SO perfectly when she says in her post: “We need to examine why women (and frankly a lot of men too) are opting out and what they are taking with them when they leave… We need to ask ourselves (and each other) what we need to do differently in order to support healthy people and families AND productive as well as sustainable work environments. One can’t happen without the other.”
I think that there are some well documented answers to those questions… paid maternity/paternity leave, part-time career paths work, flexible schedules, telecommute options, quality affordable childcare…. I could go on and on. Even WITH all of these things, which I am so very incredibly lucky to have, it is HARD to be a parent who works outside the home. I wonder everyday how my friends and colleagues who don’t share the level of support that I have manage to function.
We can do better. 
We must do better. 
Why do you think that parents are 'opting out', what are they taking with them? More importantly, what do you think we must do differently to support healthy families and a productive workforce?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Birth and Infertility

The Pail blog prompt this month is to write about our experience with birth. Our actual birth story is posted on my previous blog so I won't rewrite it here. In summary we'd planned a homebirth, but decided to induce as we approached 43 weeks. Labor was beyond intense, with contractions that took over my entire body. After nearly 24 hours I was still only 1 cm dilated. As my birth team began considering a section delivery, I was begging for a stronger epidural. It turns out that in less than an hour I'd fully dilated and had a baby descending the birth canal. 

Mr. Fox and I were talking just the other night about the things that stand out in our memories. He said that he remembers being grateful that we were at the hospital and not at home - the mess was much more than he expected! I remember the point at which I looked into his eyes and asked for help after which I think I may have blacked out from the intensity of the pain because I don't have any memory again until well after the epidural was working.  I remember so well the feeling that I'd been run over by a train, the feeling that lasted for months after the actual birth. 

There were a few things that I didn't expect. That surprised me then, and continue to catch me off-guard today. Everyone talks about love at first sight, and that is what I expected. Instead of love, I felt confused and shocked that a baby was actually in my arms. I really think that I had convinced myself that we would never become parents. I think that the journey through infertility had scarred me so deeply, that it prevented me form believing that I had actually given birth, that our baby was really truly here. I was anxious during the pregnancy, kind of just going through the motions, but on some level just waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the bad news to come. It was what I was used to, what we had experienced at nearly every step of our journey to become parents. I was braced for it to continue. 

In fact even after we were home, in bed with our little fox, I dreamt that we were just waiting to find out if we could keep him, if he was really ours. I had this feeling for weeks that someone was going to show up at our door and tell me that there had been a mistake and take him away, and therefore I had to wait before I really got attached. 

I have no doubt that the grief and pain of infertility impacted our birth and bonding experience. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

20 minutes - vulnerabilities

Little Fox just went down for a nap. I'm setting the timer to write for 20 minutes, then move on to try and get everything else on the list done before he wakes.

I work with some really incredible people. Professionally they are awesome, and every so often we get to connect on a more personal level. Facebook has really opened up the level of relationships that I have with some of these folks.

Since I had Little Fox, and have made it a priority to integrate him as much as possible into my professional life (thank you Boss!) I've seen the lines between professional and personal blur even more. There are definitely benefits to sharing the vulnerability of being a mom to be seen by colleagues. It opens the door to deeper personal connections that ultimately support our professional work. (I'm sure that there are others who disagree with my approach to work-life balance and will argue that it negatively impacts our work, but I'm not having that conversation right now.)

Through Facebook, I've stumbled upon the somewhat anonymous blogs of three professional peers. Clearly not totally anonymous, but maybe posted, or referenced during a time of vulnerability. I found myself devouring their words, their posts, their most personal thoughts, seeing them in a whole new light, deepening my respect for their life journey, understanding and knowing them on a while new level. Yet feeling a little bit like maybe I was violating some sort of unspoken rules by reading their blogs and not sharing mine with them, not even commenting to let them know that I'd viewed theirs.

The first was a profoundly powerful personal account of a colleague who was undergoing the transformation from a woman to a man. I was of course observing the outward transformation, but to read the inner experience seriously moved me. When I see him now I want to hug him and tell him how deeply I respect the choices he has made, but instead simply look for random opportunities to support him and his work.

The second was a newer blog of an older woman who has been recovered from an eating disorder for many years. Her blog reveals that it remains a daily struggle for her. I did write to her to express my admiration for her work, for her writing, and for her bravery in being so open about her experience. I told her that I too Have a blog, but didn't offer to share. I ultimately hired her to do some contract work for the non-profit that I was board chair of. There were other equally qualified individuals, but I felt a connection to this woman, because she had revealed her vulnerability.

Most recently, another colleague indirectly posted a link to the old blog that she wrote during her battle with cancer. Again, I knew about her experience as a result of working with her while she lost her hair, and underwent treatment and recovery, but reading her posts about the personal side of the experience was really incredible. She is someone who I've wanted to connect with on a more personal level for years, but haven't been able to make the leap from professional to the personal. Except now, I have an intimate knowledge of her most significant life struggle. She may know that we fought hard for our little fox, but has no idea the extent of our struggle or the scars that it has left behind.

So, my question today.... What do I do with this most personal knowledge of my peers? How do I respect their most private and personal thoughts, while knowing that I am not prepared to share my own? And significantly, are there people in my life who stumbled across my blog and are sitting in a similar position wondering if they should reveal their knowledge to me or not?

my disaster of a kitchen calls.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Foxy Birth Plan

We brought 10 copies of the Birth Plan - and separate copies of the 'in the event of a section Birth' plan . Because we'd originally planned a homebirth I did not have an OB in advance of arriving at the hospital. I did however have a chance to review it with him before we started the induction. He was very kind and explained what he might have a problem with and what he would be fine with. It was helpful for me to share my desires, but also to know what might not be possible. The nurses were also very kind and willing to listen to my wishes and explained what they might have a problem with. 
From the very beginning I was very clear about my right to refuse to do anything I was not comfortable with. I let them put the hospital bracelet on me, but then I took it off. I brought my own clothes (nightgown and robe and slippers) to wear. I brought my own blanket for the bed. We put up a sarong covering over the light and clock. We set up battery operated candles and brought our own music.  We claimed the space as our own. 

There are 4 full pages of nurses notes documenting every time the "patient refused" monitoring or iv port, or some other procedure. We kindly acknowledged that it was her job to ask, but never forgot that it was my right to decline. I think that part of what made my birth experience so positive was that I remained in control of what happened to my body.  

I understand that not all facilities are as accommodating. We were very respectful of the nurses and doctor, but also very clear about our anxiety being in the hospital and our desire for as natural a birth experience as necessary. I've also had feedback from others (in the medical community) that my birth plan asks for WAY too much, but it worked well for us and our situation. 

Without further ado... I share with you:

A Foxy Birth Plan 

It is our goal that that the entire birth process be treated as the joyful, celebratory, respectful event. We ask that the staff respect that for us this individual birth is neither common nor routine, but rather is a very special and long awaited event. After experiencing years of infertility treatment this child was conceived in love with the help of IVF. This birth represents the long awaited dream of starting our family. 
I strongly desire for my husband and doula to be with me AT ALL TIMES. I do not consent to being left alone without my husband and/or doula at ANY time for ANY reason during my hospital stay. 
I love and respect my husband. I trust him and give him full authority to make decisions on my behalf.
Please take the time to slowly explain things to me and my husband, listen to our questions, and obtain our consent prior to taking any action. We are apprehensive about being in the hospital and appreciate your patience to ensure that we understand why procedures are being suggested.
Pain Management:Please do not ask me what my pain level is or offer me pain medication. I am aware that it is available  and will ask for it if I need it. 
Delivery:I do not consent to an episiotomy. Please use perineal massage (with olive oil I have provided) and coaching for slow birth of baby’s head as well as varied positions for pushing to help avoid tearing. 
I strongly wish that the father be the person to announce the baby’s gender after birth.
I strongly wish that the father be the person to cut the umbilical cord after it has stopped pulsing. 
I would like to see and keep my placenta. My doula will take possession of my placenta after it is delivered.
Newborn Care:
I strongly desire for the baby to be placed STILL WET on my bare chest immediately following the birth. Please cover us both with with warm blankets as necessary and perform any essential newborn assessments while the baby is on my chest.  
If for any reason the baby cannot be placed on my chest, I strongly desire for the baby to be placed on the bare chest of its father. 
Bulb suctioning only unless baby shows signs of problems.  Any deep suctioning to be performed with a mobile unit while I hold baby or at my immediate side.
I do not consent to weighing, foot printing, PKU testing, Vitamin K injection, or other routine non-medically necessary tasks for the first five hours after birth. 
I do not consent to hospital staff bathing or cleaning the baby at all.
I plan to breastfeed. I do not consent to the use of any artificial nipples, formula, or sugar water for the baby.
I do not consent to the administration of eye ointment or hepatitis b vaccination.
I do not consent to the baby being removed from my presence at any time. If the baby must go to the NICU or nursery for necessary medical treatment, the father must accompany the baby at all times.
Recovery and Postpartum Care:
I would like to be able to eat real food following the delivery so that I have the strength to nurse & care for my new baby.
I would like access to the baby’s & my medical chart.
Please limit the number of times staff enter our room and please respect our desire to decline certain standard procedures. We will sign any necessary disclaimers.
We would like to be discharged as soon as possible. 
Thank You for helping us welcome the arrival of our baby!
We realize that cesareans and other surgeries are a common event at hospitals. However we ask that the staff respect that for us this invidividual surgery is neither common nor routine, but rather is a very special and long awaited even that will have effects lasting a lifetime.
I request that everyone in the OR be introduced to my partner and I and that we are explained what their role is.
Please place the IV in my left hand/arm.
I do not consent to tying my arms down unless I am unable to control them. I strongly wish to have at least one hand free to be able to touch the baby once the baby is delivered. If needed, release my right arm after the baby is delivered.
I prefer epidural anesthesia.
I do not consent to tranquilizers, sedatives or amnesiac drugs being administered. My husband or I will ask for these drugs if we feel they are necessary.

During the Cesarean:
I would prefer a low transverse incision.
Conversation between staff kept to a minimum (no casual chatter unrelated to the birth) with focus being on making my partner and I feel as at ease as possible and kept informed as to what is taking place.
I strongly wish that the father be the person to announce the baby’s gender after birth.
I strongly wish that the father be the person to cut the umbilical cord.
I strongly wish to see the baby being born either by lowering of the drape or providing a mirror.
I do not consent to a single layer suture to close my uterus.  A double layer closer with dissolvable stitches must be used.
I do not consent to staples to close my skin layer and instead want sutures.
I do not consent to my husband being separated from me even in the case of general anesthesia. It is important that the birth of our child be witnessed by a family member even if I am not in need of support at that time.
I do not consent to any students, interns, or unnecessary staff watching or treating me at any time.
I strongly desire for the baby to remain on my chest or in my arms throughout suturing, recovery, etc.
We intend to keep my placenta.  Please keep it clean and refrigerated.

Why do i blog?

I started blogging,,, hmm, when did I start blogging? It was mothers day, 2010. We were in the deep dark depths of our infertility journey. I was in a desperate place. I was afraid of the internet, a little, of the publicness, the permanentness, of the internet, but had signed up for an amazing internet class. It was beyond incredible. I started writing, and I found myself finding words for feelings that were consuming me... In the words that I wrote I found new ways to express the pain and grief and fear that I felt. And then in reading the words that other had written, I found that I wasn't alone. I recognized the things that others were writing and found myself in their words. It was powerful. Shortly thereafter I took the leap and started my first blog. It was kindof like a diary, but one that quickly started talking back to me. The feedback from others was encouragement for me to keep writing, not the reason that I wrote, but something that keep me coming back. I quickly found others who had our same rare diagnosis, who were a few steps ahead of us into the hard decisions that were waiting for mr fox and I. The relationships that grew from that blog are ones that I will treasure always. The women who walked that harrowing journey with me, even though we've never met in person, know me better than almost anyone. They supported me in ways that my IRL supporter just couldn't. In some ways it was because I felt free to share my innermost thoughts and feelings on my blog. There were so many things that I was afraid to say, afraid that my words would somehow be used against me later, but for whatever reason was able to write and share with totally random strangers. I went to great lengths to keep my blog anonymous. It was a big part of what made it such a safe place. But over time, let my closest friends and family know about it, and invited them to read it. It felt like the right thing to do, and was a powerful tool to 'let them in', to help them understand how deeply I was affected by our experience, but also led me to think twice about what I wrote, made me start censoring my words, and ultimately hesitate to write anymore. There was also something strange about transitioning what had been exclusively an infertility blog to something else. I feel like there are so many other things I'd love to write about, but it didn't feel right to write about them in that space. That blog holds the story of my deepest darkest times in life. That time has passed, and yet I feel the need to honor it by protecting the space that captured it. And yet, I miss writing. I miss the chance to sit and expand my thoughts, to see them laid out on the page. To have them translated from random bits of information flying around my head to cohesive articulated ones. It feels validating. It feels meaningful. So here I am, starting a new blog, a new space to write. So much has changed since I started. I am making a commitment to myself that I will carve out the time I need to take better care of myself. Time to exercise. Time to write. Time to just be me.

Politics of Birth

I'm sitting here typing as my little Fox naps with his head resting on my leg. Gotta love naptime!

A photo of little Fox and I were recently included in an article by Rebecca Dekker on her blog Evidence Based Birth. There is so much great information compiled here, and in such an easy to understand format. I recommend her site to all of my pregnant friends.

After our highly medical conception, Mr Fox and I decided we plan a home birth. We switched from our OB to a Licensed Midwife at 20 weeks, but as we approached 43 weeks decided to switch back to an OB for a hospital induction.  I consider myself very educated about pregnancy and birth - if only through osmosis as I grew up watching my mom in her work as a childbirth educator, doula, lactation consultant, and parent educator. Regardless, it has been an interesting process for me to look back at our birth and review all of the decisions that we made along the way.

The more I learn and reflect on my own experience, the more I realize just how political birth is. There is very little respect for 'informed consent' and much more talk about what a doctor will 'let' a pregnant woman do or not do. It makes me angry, and it makes me feel like I have a responsibility to change things.

I honestly don't care how or where a women births her children, but I absolutely believe that women should be fully informed about and empowered to make their own choices. I also firmly believe that if a women wants to defer to her doctor for those decisions that she should be confident that her doctor is providing her with the evidence-based care that is best for her and her baby.

I find myself wanting to be more involved in organizations that are working to influence change at the political level, but seeing that there are many more organizations who are working to educate women one-at-a-time so that they can demand change. California Families for Access to Midwives is doing political work that I want to be a part of. Until I am in a place to make a more formal commitment of time I find myself working around the edges, trying to support the work that is being done, but unable to take on the bigger projects that are so necessary to really make a difference.

Maintaining limits that I've set for myself is critical to my sanity. But someday in the future, I will do more. I will.