Category Archives: Breastfeeding

My Birth Story

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Jeremy, Sydney, and I went to Anchorage to pick up Papa and Nenaw (my parents) on August 11, 2012, which was our estimated due date for Baby August. We joked that it would be really awesome if we went out to dinner at the Moose’s Tooth and then just stopped off at the birth center to give birth, since we were right there by it. We were so thrilled to see my parents, and made it to the Moose’s Tooth, and all the way back home, without stopping off at the birth center. We had a great visit with them, even though they were exhausted and on North Carolina time.

We went to bed, and at about 2:05 am, I woke up and needed to poop, bad. My labor had started with Sydney in this way, but I’d had so many stops and starts with this baby, that I had put it out of my mind to consider labor until I couldn’t ignore the contractions. As soon as I was finished using the bathroom, I had a sudden feeling of not only was I in labor, but it was time to leave the house for the birth center, in an expedient fashion. I did not, however, voice this to Jeremy, and instead climbed back into bed, where Sydney had opted not to sleep that night, so I was free to paw and writhe about on the bed while making my labor sound of choice, an angry cat sound. Jeremy woke up, and asked me if I was ok. After I continued to make more sounds, he leaped out of bed, in a semi-calm fashion, and got dressed and brushed his teeth. Then he went into the room where my parents and Sydney were sleeping, and told them it was time to go.

Within 10-20 minutes, we were in the van, and on the way to the birth center. The midwives and our doula, Stella were called at some point, and I started timing my contractions. Less than 4 minutes apart. We weren’t very smart the night before, and had not filled the van up, so we had to stop for gas. While timing my contractions, I tapped on the glass to let Jeremy know they were 3 minutes apart, he got a bit freaked out. Because our midwife was at a birth at the hospital, a different midwife called me back, and I was talking to her, and was overheard by Jeremy, who was driving, and he thought I was saying I had the “urge to push”, and started to gun it, until he found out I was not feeling like I needed to push. We eventually made it to the birth center, where my cervix was checked by midwife Felicity, 5 and a half centimeters.

I began cruising the medical building where the birth center is housed, and ascending and descending the stairs, in individual steps and lunges, with Jeremy or Stella applying counter pressure. I was very happy that we had the entire building to ourselves, and we were the only people at the birth center. While I labored, Sydney toodled the building with Papa and Nenaw, and made great use of the elevators. Never had she been awakened at 2 something in the morning to play, so this was a real treat.

Stella applying counter pressure

My contractions were coming about a minute apart, and Stella said it might be a good idea to get them to be spaced a bit more, so I went to the bed, and got on all 4s, howling like an angry cat. At some point, I switched to the birth ball, which was awesome, and my hips could be free to move, and I could be supported. I opened my eyes, coming out of one contraction, and midwife Karen was there. In the quiet, respectful nature of my labor atmosphere, she had appeared, so gently, and I was greeted with a smile.

I need to take a moment to mention that while planning for this labor and birth, music was a huge consideration. Music, for me, is what makes life flow so nicely, music helps life make sense at times, and music has helped me carry on through some tough times. So, I knew that music should be strongly considered for this birth. At first, I began to put instrumental and relaxation music on my iPod, but then began to consider that there were other types of music I might like. I ended up with quite a bit of music, from different artists that help my days pass more smoothly at times, they included: John Mayer, Deathcab for Cutie, most of the Garden State soundtrack, The Fray, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood. None of the songs were about birth, but they were all songs that I enjoy. The playlist was named Baby August, and at times during my labor, I was so very grateful for the music we had playing in the background. It added to the atmosphere, the ambiance, and really helped me to remain calm.

As labor progressed, I became increasingly more uncomfortable, but stayed fairly relaxed, with lots of vocalizations. I could feel my support system there, though my eyes were closed most of the time, their gentle, positive presence was ever present. It felt truly amazing. Most of the time, my parents were in the common area of the birth center with Sydney, keeping her entertained, and sometimes, they would enter the birth arena to quietly view what was taking place. I am so thankful, that though no expectations were discussed about them attending the birth, they were so peaceful and wonderful an addition to the birth environment.

Sydney in the common area

As labor progressed I had to use the bathroom, and asked for Jeremy to hold onto me. I was shaking and feeling increased pressure and my contractions were growing ever more effective. I knew I was in transition. I went to the bed to be checked and was 8 centimeters. I think I labored some more on the ball, then went to the bathroom again, and said I wanted to get in the tub, which was then filled, and I got in. Shortly after I got in the tub, Sydney entered the room, dressed in her swimsuit, and got in with me. She showered my belly and legs with water and love, and was just so peaceful and gentle and quiet. This is sort of a rare thing for Sydney-girl to be, and so that’s why I mention this. She realized the situation called for calm, and everyone else in the room was so calm and quiet, and she followed suit. I am so very proud of her. She stayed in the tub with me for a bit. Sydney was allowed to remain in the tub with me as long as I was not pushing.

Jeremy, Sydney and our midwife

Midwife Karin and me

I labored in there, sitting, working through contractions, becoming increasingly more uncomfortable, feeling like birth was right around the corner, and becoming a bit doubtful about whether I could give birth. I wanted to escape, and I began to feel like I could push, as my tones changed, and the midwife noticed. She checked me, and I had a cervical lip left along the front of my cervix, next to my pubic bone, so that each time I had a contraction, I got an intense pinchy feeling that translated to me as intense pain. I began to vocalize more in words, and because I knew my daughter was in the room, I tried to be aware of what I was saying, so most of what I said was, “OUCH!” The midwife left her fingers in there for a contraction and had me push to get the lip to go over the baby’s head, and asked me if I wanted to get on all 4s to try to get that to move (either out of the tub or in the tub), I decided I was NOT getting out of the tub.

Midwife helping me push the lip over the baby’s head

Moving the cervical lip, with a super cute Sydney in the foreground

I got on all 4s, and found that there was pain to be had in getting the lip to disappear. I continued to be cognizant of the fact that Sydney was in the room, but finally gave way with a word that is not so nice, and rhymes with ‘duck’. The midwife laughed and noted that the baby was likely not far behind. I continued to feel a lot of pain, and then sat back down in the tub after several minutes to be checked again. With the help of the midwife’s fingers, I was able to push hard enough to get the lip past the baby’s head, and to a position of rocking back and forth under the pubic bone. None of this was a picnic, and far more painful than I thought it could possibly be.

A note about pain: I will say that I had no idea that it would be painful at all, and I know that sounds very silly, but in my preparation for Sydney’s birth, I took HypnoBirthing that addresses comfort levels and not feelings of pain, and I had an epidural during her birth (not because of pain, but out of sheer exhaustion), so I experienced little pain. At this point, I had been in labor for about 5 hours, as compared to reaching the pushing stage in about 20 hours with Sydney, so my ability to process what was happening was different. There were many differences in my labors, and at this point, the baby was very ready to be born, quite literally around a turn, just around the corner, so close. I was very afraid at this point, afraid I couldn’t push the baby out, afraid of the pain (if it already hurt this much), and I wanted to ask to go to the hospital. But my inner dialogue was something like this… “Oh my God, I need pain relief! I need to go to the hospital. I wouldn’t make it to the hospital though, the baby is about to be born. The only way to get the baby out is to push the baby out. I can do this.”

The midwife kept reminding me to not hold back, because I was fighting what my body was trying to do, out of fear and pain. The patience of the midwife’s voice, and the whispering in my ear by Stella was incredible. At one point, I remember Stella telling me I could do it, and I started to repeat, “OK, OK, OK, OK, OK…” (While my inner voice was saying the complete: “Ok, I can do this”) over and over again. The rocking of the baby’s head continued, until one huge push, and there was no stopping what was taking place. I was no longer in control at all of my body, as the Natural Expulsive Reflex (NER) took over, and I shook all over and felt like I was yelling inside. I really wish we had video of the labor/birth at this point, because I feel like I lost all control. I know I was making noise, I felt like the baby was going to come racing out. I kept feeling for the head, and eventually I felt it. I remember feeling immense pressure and fullness as the baby’s head was emerging, especially at the front of my pelvis, and as if the skin from my urethra back were splitting, never to return to true form again. And, I couldn’t stop any of this.

While all of this was happening, Sydney was being held by Nenaw, and in all of the noise and commotion that I was producing, Sydney hid her face in Nenaw’s shoulder. She was scared. Nenaw reassured her, but she wanted to cry from seeing me in a struggle. Sydney eventually turned her head back to watch.

My midwife provided support of my perineum, and my husband waited with hands ready to receive our baby. My eyes remained closed the entire time, and on one of the pushes, the head came forth. Soon after, another push, and the shoulders, and the body slid out into my husband’s hands, and next thing I knew, our baby was on my chest. I was relieved to meet the baby, relieved to meet on the outside, joyful about everything. We asked Sydney if she wanted to tell us who the baby was, and she announced that it was “Collin”. This surprised no one, since all of us thought the baby was a boy, and everyone was elated to finally see him. Sydney stood there, looking at him, talking to him (we told her this was one of her jobs after the baby was born).

Here he is!

Sydney was so excited.

I don’t remember much, other than thinking that our Collin looked just like his big sister did at birth. He looked at me, calmly, wide eyed, as if he were in shock about what had just happened (I was too, my son). I continued to feel immense pressure, and about 2 minutes after he was born, I was informed that his cord had finished pulsating, and so it was clamped and cut. This was a choice that was incredibly important to us, so that Collin could receive all of his cord blood, to help him acclimate to the outside world and breathe more easily. The placenta was soon birthed, and Jeremy was asked to remove his shirt for skin to skin bonding to begin with our son. We were moved to the bed to begin bonding as a family. Collin was able to latch on, after he was laid on my chest again. After some time, Collin was weighed and measured. He was a whopping 8 pounds and 1 ounce and 21 inches long! (Sydney was 6 pounds and 10 ounces and 19 and a half inches long) Soon after that, I was wheeled down the hall to be stitched up (I tore in the same place as I did with Sydney). Collin was assessed and given his Vitamin K injection, a decision we weighed very heavily, and after much consideration, we decided we would rather he have a vitamin injection than a blood transfusion if for some reason he should have a bleed before his blood clotting factors became present.

I was brought back, and we were able to relax for some time, eat, and were attended by the most wonderful midwife assistant named Cindy. I really am so grateful for her presence after Collin’s birth. She was there as a gentle presence in the background, and after the midwife left, she remained there, helping me use the bathroom, showing me how to smash my uterus to make it clamp down, and just there as a resource for our family. We left the birth center about 4 and a half hours following Collin’s birth, and have been adjusting to life ever since as a family of 4.

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Afterthoughts about Collin’s Birth:

After giving birth to Collin, I felt completely different than I did when I gave birth to Sydney. There were so many differences in their births and the time immediately following. Sydney’s birth, for me, has brought up many angry feelings that are still healing. In some ways, I felt robbed of what my experience with her birth could have been. That is another post entirely. I’d do it a million times over, to get my Sydney-girl, of course, but there are some things I wish I’d known, wish I’d said, wish I’d done differently. Can’t go back, so I prepared for Collin’s birth differently. Following Sydney’s birth, there was no sense of dignity, peace or silence. There was always some sort of noise and activity, always someone coming in to look at my “bottom”, and at times, the nurses would bring in nurses that were not assigned to me, to see the trauma that had ensued from pushing her out. No sense of respect.

Following Collin’s birth, and during his birth, there was nothing but dignity and respect. I never felt barked at or talked down to, and there was silence and peace when the time was right. There was encouragement, support, comfort, and an overall environment of positive energy. I am so thankful to have given birth at the birth center, and there is nothing I would change about my experience there.

Postpartum Period:

Currently, I am 15 days postpartum. My postpartum period with Sydney was rough, to say the least. We had some trouble with breastfeeding, sleeping, stress, and all kinds of other things. I remember at some points wanting to throw her out the two story window, and being so weepy and frustrated all the time. What I did not know then, I know now. I will share.

Collin’s postpartum period has been filled with me accepting help from others, lying down to heal, napping nearly naked (skin-to-skin) with him, tons of breastfeeding, my primarily holding him, taking my time, being patient with myself, and consuming my placenta. Yes, I said it, I’m consuming my placenta. I had it encapsulated, in a process where it is herbed, steamed, dehydrated then ground up and put into capsules. Benefits include increased milk production, decreased postpartum mood disorders, and a more even keel feeling. My postpartum period this time, because of the combination of everything I mentioned above, has been incredible. I was weepy on day 2, when my parents had to leave, and I still am missing them terribly. My patience has been thin sometimes, and I feel tired a lot of the time, but I think that comes with the territory. I am joyful to have our son, to have all the love and support we have received, and I look forward to everyday.

Breastfeeding:

I mentioned that Collin latched on well at the birth center. All of that changed by our 24 hour visit with nurse Jen (she came to our home, so super nice). Collin had been refusing to nurse, had had no dirty or wet diapers since the day of his birth, and was extremely fussy. Nurse Jen looked him over, and suggested that we see the lactation consultant at the birth center after trying to express or pump milk and feed it to Collin in a spoon or syringe. I tried this, and he nursed a bit that day, but we had a terrible night filled with him crying, and my cringing because of a poor latch. Because my parents were leaving on day 2, we decided I would stay home with Collin to heal some more, and we would go to the lactation consultant on day 3 if we needed to. Another night of crying and feeling like my nipple was being sawn off with razor blades told me it was time to seek help. We saw LC Sarah, and she assessed his latch (weak and poor), saw that his lower jaw is short, and that he has a tight frenulum on his upper lip. She suggested we go see the chiropractor. I have to sing the praises of our chiropractor!!! I called, 5 minutes out, less than an hour before they were closing, and asked if we could be seen, affirmative. We were seen immediately. While there, during the adjustment, Collin peed for the first time since birth, and we borrowed some clothing of the chiropractor’s son (he’s over a year old). He also received a skull massage and cranio-sacral adjustment, and I received instruction on helping with his lower jaw. Since seeing the lactation consultant and chiropractor, Collin has been a champion nurser! At his 11 day visit with the pediatrician, he had gained 13.5 ounces since birth, and grown a half an inch! Go breast milk!

Sydney:

Sydney has really adjusted so well to being a big sister, and has worn this hat beautifully. She, perhaps, is a model big sister, and is so very proud of her little brother. Her challenge in adjusting was that she felt abandoned and unloved by me. I was able to set this straight with her, and reassure her of my undying love for her, and things have been much smoother ever since. Sydney is very gentle with Collin, and is always ready with a “Hi, Collin!!!” and “Is he awake?!” She loves to hold him and talk to him most, and has been extremely helpful with so much. She has also made a huge transition as a 5 year old: she started kindergarten!!! We are so extremely proud of her, as we always are, and are so pleasantly surprised by how well she has adjusted and acclimated to life as a big sister.

I would like to thank some people who have helped make our transition so smooth:

Midwife Felicity

Midwife Karen

Midwife Assistant Cindy

Nurse Jen

LC Sarah

Dr. Jessica (chiropractor)

Stella (Doula)

Dad & Cheryl

Jeremy’s Mom

Grams and Poppy

Nikii

Ladies that are participating in our Meal Train

Everyone who sent me a bead and a cloth

Facebook friends

And most of all, Jeremy and Sydney

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Convenience in Parenting

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If I mention Attachment Parenting, it conjures many images, doesn’t it?  It also brings up some stigma, some judgment, and some distaste for some.  But many others who practice this method of parenting find great comfort in it.  I think that many people don’t think that this form of parenting has a place in our modern society, and see many other things as far more superior and convenient than holding, wearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping with their baby, and for those families, that’s all well and good.  I would like to argue, though, that Attachment Parenting is not weird, and it does indeed have a place in our modern world. Sure, there are times when strollers and baby swings do offer those of us who parent attached some convenience, but allow me to offer some scenarios, and you may judge for yourself which sounds more convenient, easier, less stressful, and possibly more cost effective.  I think that most people who parent like I do, do so because it is cheaper, easier, much more convenient, and just fits with our lifestyles.

Scenario  – Attachment Parenting

It’s 4:30 am, and this is the 4th time since 11pm that you’re awake with your newborn, you’ve been awakened by gentle stirring and squeaks from her, indicating that she’s hungry.  You co-sleep and breastfeed, so you move your baby slightly to latch her on, and both of you are happy, as you drift off to sleep.  At 7, you both wake up, and get ready to face the day.  After diapering, you carry her to the kitchen to fix breakfast for your older child.  Before you fix breakfast, you put the baby in a woven wrap, latch her on as you go about your routine in the morning.  You are able to help your older child with many things, with the baby in the wrap, and your baby even falls asleep to the gentle movements and sounds of your body, which are so familiar to her.  After breakfast, you go to bathe, and take a bath with your new baby and older child.  After nursing again before leaving the house, you’re off to do errands.  During the errands, you push the shopping cart with your older child in it, and wear your baby, this time in a soft structured carrier, with legs froggied.  Baby sleeps most of the time, and only wakes to be changed, and nursed, but then goes right back to sleep.  After errands, you return home, and fix a little lunch, again, wearing your baby, then go with your children to take a nap, all together in one bed.  You nurse your newborn to sleep, and sing to your older child.  You all three fall asleep after a short period of time, and wake refreshed.  This scenario could continue, but you get the gist of what attachment parenting looks like.  Sure, there is some chaos in the lives of parents who attachment parent, but for the most part, many of the parents that parent this way have easier, more cooperative, go with the flow children that feel very loved, protected, nurtured, and often know how to express their needs more clearly since their needs have been met in the ways they have.

Scenario – Non-Attachment Parenting

It’s 4:30 am, and this is the 4th time since 11pm that you’re awake with your newborn.  You hear her on the monitor, from her room, grunting, indicating that she’s hungry.  You walk bleary eyed to the kitchen to make a bottle, and by the time you return to your baby, she is screaming in hunger.  You pick her up, sit in the rocking chair, and struggle to stay awake as you feed her.  When she has finished her bottle, you burp her, change her diaper, and set her back in her crib.  After you leave, she cries a bit, because she doesn’t smell or hear you any longer, and you are so tired that you go back to bed, letting her cry herself to sleep.  At 7am, you’re awakened again, by your grunting hungry newborn.  You get up, make her bottle, and get her up as well.  While you make breakfast for your older child, you put your baby in a bouncer with bottle propped up, so you can tend to what needs to be done in the kitchen.  As you play with your older child, and help her with things that she wants to do, you transfer your newborn to her swing, and are interrupted by your crying newborn who wants to be held by you.  You hold her, but are very busy with your older child, and the things you’re doing with your older child require two hands, and so your newborn is put back in the swing.  After another bottle feeding, you go to take a shower, and put your baby in the bouncer in the bathroom with you, and she cries through the entire shower.  You get yourself and your children ready and go do some errands.  You put your baby’s infant carrier in the large part of the shopping cart, and your older child in the front of the cart.  Your baby cries in the carrier because she is uncomfortable and hot, and wants to be held by you.  Your errands are cut short, because you grow tired of hearing your baby cry so much.  You return home, feed your older child lunch, hold your baby to feed her a bottle, and barely eat anything out of sheer exhaustion.  You then go to put your children down for a nap, but your older child fights you, because it’s still daylight and she doesn’t want to go to sleep in her room, she wants to play instead.  This ends in crying, a spanking, very much frustration, and a stressed out mama.  The baby senses the stress and doesn’t want to go to sleep either.  It takes 45 minutes to get the baby to sleep, and you’re not even sure if your older child gets a nap.  Again, this scenario could continue through the day.  Just typing it makes me exhausted.  I speak from my own earlier experiences when I say that this form of parenting did not work for us. My husband and I have had to learn the hard way, with much trial and error, what works best for our family.

When Sydney was born, nearly 5 years ago, we really and truly were clueless, with very little physical support system.  I attempted co-sleeping, since breastfeeding was the one thing I was really attached to, but I didn’t understand that I could stay in bed and nurse her to sleep, so I would get out of bed, and sit in a rocking chair for exhausting amounts of time, with both of us falling asleep, and nothing productive happening.  I was sleep deprived, anxious, and suffered from postpartum depression, which I’m sure could have been made better with more sleep and better support.  We stopped co-sleeping very early.

We tried baby wearing, but the ring sling I had, I never knew how to use, so I got rid of that quickly. I had no knowledge of other carriers (soft structured carriers, woven wraps, stretchy wraps, mei tais, etc).  Sydney spent a lot of time in a swing (which she hated) or in a bouncer (which she also hated).  It didn’t occur to me at all that we needed each other.  There is a special bond between mother and baby, where oxytocin and endorphins are exchanged when they are in physical contact with each other.

As Sydney grew older, parenting went well, but then frustrations mounted as she was becoming her own person, with her own thoughts, and could do more for herself.  We employed spanking as a form of discipline, out of sheer frustration.  I wish I could take that all back.  I wish I had never laid a hand on her.  Spanking is proven, through years and years and years of research to cause very real psychological damage to children.  Never have I felt like a bigger pile of crap, than when I was hitting my helpless daughter, and never have I seen a child change so quickly for the bad.  Her personality changed, and she was no longer my sweet little girl who was full of life.  We eventually got a clue and stopped spanking her, and our cheerful, wonderful, spunky, beautiful light of a daughter returned to us, but I do believe she is still learning to trust us again.

When Sydney was 2 and a half, we returned to baby wearing on a trip to California to visit family. We got an Ergo carrier as a gift, and still have it, and use it often.  Wearing Sydney has not only been very convenient for us, but it’s increased our bond as a family.  She loves being close to us, and we know and understand that now, and so many times throughout the day, she’s with us, physically… attached.  We love it, all three of us.

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Additionally, in November, when Jeremy came up to Alaska, Sydney and I started co-sleeping again, simply out of convenience, and I felt safer with her in the room with me.  She has grown to love this, and bedtime, which was once a challenge, and sometimes, even a battle, has gotten much easier.  We have a king sized bed, and she sleeps in between us.  I love co-sleeping.  I get to hear her, in the middle of the night say things like, “gorilla shoes”, and answer her bad dreams immediately.  It is obvious that she feels very safe in our bed, and very much wanted by us.  I wasn’t sure if my husband would respond positively to having a 4 year old in bed with us, but on one night when she decided to start out in her own room, as we went to get her, my husband was giddy to have her join us.  We will be adding a new baby soon to our family, and he/she will also sleep with us.  I now know that I can stay in bed to nurse, which is such a blessing.

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The transition from our parenting days in the beginning until now has been sometimes slow and challenging to go with.  But the results, ah, the results.  Wow.  What a difference.  Not only has it made a huge difference with Sydney, but our family is so much more tightly knit.  Sydney, who was always really intelligent, has grown so much more intelligent.  Our trust toward each other has increased so much.  We all sleep so much better.  Sydney knows that if she needs something, she can depend on us to meet her needs.

We are learning daily how to be better parents.  But there are some things that we definitely stand for and stand by.  Our family is so important to us, and nurturing it into the best family we can is very important to us.  We make every effort to research what is best, psychologically, physically, emotionally for our children.  This is how we have come to Attachment Parenting (which we simply call parenting), because all of these fit well in our lives, work well for us, and are founded in well researched practices. What we have found to be the best things for us may not be for you, and we have come to them through a lot of trial and error.  If you’re having trouble or challenges with some of your methods, it’s never too late to try other methods, we are prime examples of that.  I’m thankful everyday that we parent the way we do now.  My personal stress levels are so much lower, and I feel as if my communication with my uber intelligent daughter is so much better and effective.

Comments Welcome, Please.

Holy Baby Preparation Batman!

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I’m not sure how it was for you when you were pregnant for the second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc) time, but this pregnancy is so completely different from Sydney’s.  Both started out much the same, with epic morning sickness that was diagnosed as hyperemesis.  I lost 13 pounds with Sydney, and 9 pounds with this baby.  At 16 weeks, I was finally able to start eating, and suddenly, I started to show!  It was a miracle.  I’m carrying so much differently too, with Sydney, I gained weight everywhere, but with this baby, I’ve lost body fat that has all redistributed as a beautiful bowling bowl sort of thing out in front.  I have less hair growth, much more mole growth, and my hair has not gotten as thick as it did with Sydney.  This baby is also very active, so much more so than Sydney ever was!!!  I wish I could have gotten accurate video of what was happening last night, because it looked as if the baby was going to leap out of my skin.  Oh, and Braxton Hicks contractions!!!! Whoa, I started having those last week, and today, I took a walk with Sydney as she rode her bike in the beautiful Alaska weather, and was ever so happy to get home to sit down!  And the nesting.  Wow!  I never nested with Sydney, and when I say never, I do mean NEVER.  My house was a wreck all the time, but tonight, after having Sydney clean her room, I was greatly inspired, I guess.  I came back downstairs, and started doing the dishes, started the dishwasher, cleaned the litter box (with gloves on), swept the floors, and did some laundry earlier today.  A week and a half ago, I was doing baby laundry, to include diapers.  I even got the baby’s room organized, even though he/she will not be sleeping in that room, and put everything away.  Strangely enough, I never got around to putting the diapers away, so they sit in the middle of the floor, waiting to be folded and put away.  That might be my next task, after finishing this blog post up.

I’m sure you noticed above that I said he/she.  We are not finding out the sex, which some people find absolutely shocking, as if we have 3 legs a piece.  We didn’t find out what sex Sydney was when she was in the womb, and were not stressed or crazy in the least in preparation for her.  I do, however, believe that we prepared very poorly for her.  I say this, because we thought we needed EVERY baby item/gadget that existed, and ended up spending possibly thousands more than was necessary.  We ended up giving a lot of stuff away.  For me, this time, this pregnancy has been a breeze for preparation.  We decided from the beginning that we would be co-sleeping, so that eliminates the need for many things:  painted nursery, crib, crib bedding, nursery decoration, etc. Figuring out what to do with our precious almost 5 year old daughter, though, will be the challenge.  She is co-sleeping currently between my husband and me, which we both love.  We shall see, and I’m sure I’ll be blogging about this after the baby comes.

We will also be breastfeeding (and when I say we, I don’t mean my husband and me, because he’s not in the market for making milk), which means that we can save money there, because we will reuse our breast pump from Sydney, and we have been given some bottles, which is awesome, and my friend is sending me a bunch of stuff.  All that I’ve really done to prepare for breastfeeding is getting some awesome reusable breast pads that feel like luxury on the boob, SO SOFT.

Oh, and something I’m so excited about, speaking of luxury.  We are using cloth diapers!  We are starting with prefolds with Snappis and covers for the newborn stage, and have a small number of other types of diapers, All In Ones, Pockets, Fitteds, etc for other stages.  Some of the diapers we have are so soft that I’m almost jealous the baby gets to wear them, and not me!  I did make a joke, one day, to my friend Malia, who owns a totally awesome diaper store in Fayetteville, NC, that I was going to make my kids cloth diaper me when I am old and can no longer make it to the bathroom on my own.  I don’t know if they’ll go for it.  Baby butts are so cute, and old lady butts, well… they just aren’t.  I digress, cloth diapers are awesome.  I think I’m more excited about using cloth diapers than almost anything, well, except for the actual birth and breastfeeding.  Ok, I lie, I’m excited about it all!

So you’re curious now, perhaps, about the birth we are planning and preparing for.  Being in Alaska, we are so blessed to be confronted with how normal birth is.  There are birth centers, midwives, doulas, and home births everywhere.  When we were in NC, we were planning and preparing for a home birth with Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Donna Galati of Monarch Midwifery.  I loved Donna.  She was a hard ass at times, which I know I needed, but I know that she truly cared about me and my baby.  She was a huge stickler for nutrition, which is so important.  Donna is amazing!  Love her.  So you can imagine that our move to Alaska caused some anxiety in me, as I faced finding where and with whom to give birth.  I did my research before moving to Alaska, though, and found a birth center in Anchorage with 5 midwives.  I’m thrilled to have found them, and I really am excited about my upcoming birth with them.  I plan on birthing with very little interference, unless absolutely necessary.  I am excited to embark on this journey with my husband, daughter and mother in law at my side, supporting me through labor and birth.  I look forward to laboring in as many positions as possible, using a rebozo to hang, dangle, sway, etc, and possibly giving birth in water.  I am not completely set on this, because I never know how I’ll feel when it comes time to give birth, I may want to give birth on land.  I am just excited to give birth in a manner that is different than when I gave birth to Sydney.

I am sure that as I get closer to giving birth, the nesting will continue.  I am sometimes surprised by how quickly nesting mode sets in.  There are times when nothing else will do, but what is in my head to do at that time.

I would love to hear your stories of nesting, or how you prepared for your births.  Comments welcome!  Have a lovely day!

Wake Up & Smell the Breast Milk!

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Ok, ok, ok, so I admit it.  I was a lazy mom.  Really lazy, I mean, the laziness I’m talking about may reach epic proportions.  And I have reasons, very good, valid ones, before you start to judge.  I was lazy because I didn’t want to really wake up at night with my newborn, and because I didn’t want to bring extra stuff in my already full diaper bag (who knew babies came with so many accessories?!), and because it was so very easy (except for the learning curve at the beginning), and because after all the research I consulted, I found it to be the healthiest thing I could do for myself and my sweet little lady.  And in all of this, I am not the least bit ashamed of my laziness, nor will I ever apologize for it.

What was I so lazy about?!  I chose breastfeeding over formula feeding (nearly exclusively for the first 8 months, and with supplementation of solid food and formula from 8-13 months).  My choice was made out of convenience for me, but also for health, environmental, ethical, and moral reasons.  This was my choice, because the preparation of formula seemed crazy, when I had milk stored, ready, warmed, and perfect for my baby, at every stage of her development.  So why would I purchase formula and bottles, and go through a lengthy preparation process (which most people do not do correctly).  Some people say that formula preparation is simple, but I argue that it is not.  As new parents to a newborn who would take about 3 hours to nurse, because she fell asleep so often at my breast, we would undertake a lengthy preparation process (incorrectly, I might add, if you’re wanting to prepare the formula safely according to the preceding link) of bottles of formula at night when she would wake up (and guess what I would do, I’d pump!).  It seems as though I could have known more about bed-sharing or co-sleeping (and I do now), so I could have gotten the much needed rest that all new mothers crave, while feeding my baby.

I soon discovered that I wanted to snuggle my warm baby against my body so I could nourish her with my milk, rather than feed her with a product that was derived from the milk of a cow who was forced to wean her baby way too soon (seems to me the calf deserved her milk, not my baby Sydney).  And we got used to each other, and sometimes we even slept in her rocking chair at night, cuddling with each other, Sydney nursing at leisure, and me getting some rest.  We had a wonderful breastfeeding relationship, and this is one of the reasons I am proud that I was so lazy.

But now, human innovation has developed a product that seems to make formula preparation as easy as preparing your morning cup of coffee.  A new product that touts, “It’s very simple, very intuitive, hygienic and of optimum safety.”, according to Martin Grieder, Nestle’s head of advanced nutrition systems.  And because baby bottle warmers are not enough, people now have the option of simply putting a capsule of pre-measured formula into the machine that provides the proper portion of water, at the proper temperature, so it is (indeed) like making coffee.  All of this, but at what cost?  Allow me to evaluate:

  • Money – The capsules themselves are said to cost roughly double the cost of canisters of formula, and the machine is an additional cost (at $284 US Dollars).  Not to mention the cost of bottles for the formula to go in.
  • Time – Whether a person is preparing a bottle of formula, or a machine is, there is still time that is being taken to do so.  We must also account for the amount of time that a hungry baby has to wait.
  • Environmental – Not only are factory farms milking cows and creating huge waste, but the transportation method used to ship said milk to factories that make the infant formula, and the formula making process itself are environmentally unfriendly.  The canisters or capsules that formula is placed in also clog our landfills and are killing our planet.
  • Convenience – I seriously doubt people are going to bring these machines with them when they are out and about, so it seems that the “convenience factor” goes right out the window.
  • Health – Research has proven that babies that are formula fed are at a much greater risk of developing many diseases and health problems (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, ear infections, cancer, and the list goes on and on and on).  Additionally, mothers who do not breastfeed also do not reap the health benefits such as a reduced risk of cancer and diabetes.
So I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.  Many of you know me well enough to know that I’m not a fan of formula, and I do not think it should be given to babies.  I do believe that all mothers should at least attempt to breastfeed, and should have excellent education and support while breastfeeding.  But, since we do not live in a utopian society, and since our society seems to be driven by convenience (which seems counterintuitive to formula feeding), and our society seems to think that breastfeeding is repulsive, embarrassing, and something women should be ashamed of, most families in the United States choose formula over breast.  So here is my argument against this product.  
  1. The only milk that is perfectly portioned, the perfect temperature, and perfect for a baby/toddler/child at all stages of development is (human) breast milk.  
  2. The cost of breastfeeding is minimal when compared to infant formula.
  3. Breastfeeding is the most convenient way to feed a baby – unfasten bra, pull bra down, pull shirt up, latch baby on, look deep into the eyes of your child whose love is unconditional and unending, and enjoy.
  4. Mothers who breastfeed actually get MORE sleep than formula feeding mothers.  Breastfeeding mothers can pull a baby to her breast and fall back to sleep.
  5. Breastfeeding mothers are not using another species milk to give to their babies.
  6. Breast milk is always going to be the most perfect food for babies.
  7. Mothers of all socioeconomic backgrounds can breast feed, and it will not break the bank.
Not only is this product another barrier to breastfeeding, but it also proves to me that people are craving more convenience in feeding their babies.  So I say, as I always do, why not breastfeed?!  If you don’t want to spend your child’s college fund before he/she even has a chance to get there, and you want to get more sleep at night, and you want more convenience, and you’re tired of cleaning bottles… then why not?
Comments Welcome!

New Mamas

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I had the joy of going to Target today with Sydney, since I knew the Halloween costumes would be discounted.  We got everything we needed, then headed for the check out lines.  As we approached, I heard the distinctive “hungry” cry of a very new baby.  We walked past, and the mother looked exasperated, and the baby, who had clearly been crying for a very long time, was beginning to turn a shade of purple from crying so much.  Initially, I wondered what was going on, why was the mother not holding her tiny baby, did she not know that her baby was hungry?  As I quietly assessed the situation from where I was standing, I figured out that the mother is probably a new mother, and new to breastfeeding as well.  I guessed this from what she was wearing, a shirt, and a very poofy vest (in case of milk leakage), and from her hesitation to hold the baby, especially close to her breasts.  When she was ready to pay, she finally picked the baby up, but the baby did not stop crying.

People stared at this woman who only wanted to leave the store, and go to a place where she felt safe enough to feed her baby.  So in this situation, I did not judge, I simply looked on with sadness for both the mother and the baby, and here is why.

New mothers are so impressionable, they have come fresh out of pregnancy where they were constantly bombarded by “advice” on what to do during pregnancy and after.  Some of this advice included whether to breastfeed or not, and in that advice, there is judgment.  New mothers constantly feel judged.  And new mothers who decide to breastfeed have an extra challenge, because breastfeeding in public is looked down upon in many places, because of the over-sexualization of the human female breast (which was created to nourish our young).  So as she stood in line, most likely with her breasts leaking, possibly throbbing from milk wanting to come out to feed her sweet baby, she felt the judgment of the people around her, “why don’t you do SOMETHING?!”  But I can bet that if she had taken her baby, and nursed her right there, even with a nursing cover, there would have been judgment there too.  Some people may have applauded that she was honoring her baby’s biological need to eat from its biological source, but others would have looked on in disgust, knowing that her baby was latched on to her nipple, and getting milk.

My sadness for the baby is because babies are born completely dependent on us.  Everything they learn, they learn from their environment, their surroundings, their parents, different reactions to them, etc.  In short, they are learning to trust their world, and when their parents or caregivers are not honoring their communication (cries), then they begin to learn that the world may not be a place to trust.

Some think that babies only communicate through crying, but this is untrue.  Babies are constantly making gestures, sounds, body movements, motions, and facial expressions that communicate exactly what they need.  In a bond between a baby and his/her mother, especially if the mother is a nursing mother, the mother learns very quickly what each little gesture, sound, and movement of her baby means.  And between them, a unique, beautiful bond is formed, in which there is love, oxytocin, communication and endorphins exchanged, and this is where each honor the other.

It seems to me that the mother had most likely ignored all signs of her baby’s hunger, and became embarrassed, felt helpless (about nursing in public), and was at the point of exasperation when we encountered her.  Mothers should NEVER feel embarrassed to nurse in public, because after all, this is the way that nature intends for us to feed our babies.

As I write this, I realize that I need to say so much more than just what I’ve said, so hear me when I say this, whether you are an onlooker, or if you’re a new mother (especially a nursing mother).  New mothers NEED support, of community, family, and friends, especially to be successful at breastfeeding.  Here are some pointers:

  • As an onlooker to a new mother who has a crying baby, but looks to be exasperated, frustrated, or stressed about the situation, ask if you can help her (with the baby, with her things, if she needs to sit down, etc).
  • As an onlooker to a new mother who may be struggling to nurse her baby, offer to shield her, with your body, a blanket, nursing cover, etc.
  • As an onlooker, if you’re offended by a nursing mother near you in public, PLEASE, simply smile at her, and look the other way.  What she is doing will in no way harm you, but it will help our society in the long run (See Breastfeeding Advantages in my previous post)
  • As an onlooker of a nursing mother, even if you are offended, acknowledge that she is feeding her baby the best and healthiest food, and say either ‘congratulations’ or ‘thank you’ to her.
  • As an onlooker of a nursing mother, if you feel compelled to say something offensive, please, instead ask her a question about her nursing relationship or her baby.  Do not say offensive things to nursing mothers, especially new ones.
  • As a new mother, do not feel ashamed, afraid, nervous, or intimidated about nursing your baby in public.
  • As a new mother, ask for help from others around you when you need it.
  • As a new mother, honor your bond with your baby, every chance you get.
  • As a new mother, work hard to ignore people who seem to be judging you.
  • As a new mother, evaluate each piece of “parenting advice” you get from others… Will this work for us?  Does this fit with our parenting approach?
  • As a new mother, establish a routine for your baby and yourself early, so you know when he/she will need to be fed, sleep, changed, etc.
  • As a new mother, take care of yourself.

It wasn’t that long ago that my 3 year old was a nursling, and it wasn’t that long ago that both positive and negative actions and words made an impact on how I nourished her.  My choices may be different than other new mothers, but I do hope for all new mothers, that they form an impenetrable bond with their babies, and that they not allow what others say or do to come between that bond.

Comments Welcome and Appreciated.

Production of Products

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Yesterday, I ran across a small post by Peaceful Parenting about a one piece outfit that was being manufactured by Old Navy.  Needless to say, as a mother who nursed her baby, and was told her baby was not growing fast enough for the (formula-fed) growth charts and to supplement with formula (only to have my daughter grow no faster than she did previously), I was pretty disgusted.  I promptly wrote an email to them, telling them of my disgust.

There are so many reasons I am disgusted by this product, and the act of a baby receiving nutrition from a bottle is the least of them.  It is what is put into those bottles (formula) that is my concern, and the concern of breastfeeding advocates everywhere.  Breast milk is the best and most nutritionally sound food for a baby, no matter who the baby is.  Babies are mammals, and SHOULD be breastfed.  Now I understand that formula is there as a choice, but with all of the barriers out there to breastfeeding as it is, this onesie is like a slap in the face to the people who are so desperately trying to make any head way at all toward making breastfeeding less taboo, less negative, and more acceptable in a nation that loves instant gratification.

Currently, in the United States, children who are formula fed are experiencing the following at higher rates than breastfed babies:  ear infections, diarrhea, asthma, respiratory problems, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), Type-1 Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer in girls, Hodgkin’s Disease, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), urinary tract infections, vision problems, tooth decay, to name quite a few.

And for a company to manufacture a product with a mention of being “Formula Powered”, whether it was an intentional or unintentional political or social statement, or a simple graphic logo meant for “fun”, it shows a lack of knowledge toward the current problem in our nation.  Many people I know are not aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, and further, are not aware of the health problems associated with formula feeding.

So here are some benefits of breastfeeding:

  1. Lowers rates of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  2. Reduces infant mortality rates by 21% in the first year
  3. Enhances the effectiveness of some vaccines
  4. White blood cells through breast milk act as immune system boosters to help fend off disease and illness
  5. Reduction in the diseases and illnesses listed above
  6. Less environmental impact (no packaging, and does not contribute to factory farming)
  7. Less work missed, and lower public and private insurance costs for families who breastfeed
  8. Reduces high blood pressure, obesity, and bad cholesterol rates later in life
  9. For premature babies, helps the brain stem to mature
  10. Less bleeding postpartum for mother, because of oxytocin helping the uterine vessels to clamp down properly
  11. For some mothers, delayed ovulation for 20-30 months
  12. Bonding between mother and baby enhanced
  13. Lowered risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes (in women without a history of gestational diabetes), pre-menopausal breast cancer, and ovarian cancers.  These risks lower the longer a woman breastfeeds

And some Costs of Formula Feeding:

  1. Obesity is on the rise.  According to Breastfeeding Fights Obesity, 15-20 % of obesity could have been prevented by breastfeeding
  2. Childhood diseases and illnesses listed above are higher risks with formula fed babies
  3. Not breastfeeding can cause health problems in the mother, to include: excessive bleeding after giving birth (this is caused because oxytocin is not produced to help the blood vessels in the uterus clamp down properly), ovarian cancer, breast cancer before menopause, for mothers who had gestational diabetes, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher, and osteoporosis.)
  4. Environmental impact (factory farming and product packaging)

Obviously I am an advocate of breastfeeding.  I think you all knew that by now.  And this blog post is not intended to point fingers at Old Navy for manufacturing such a product, but it is to bring attention to the issue at hand.  Formula feeding HARMS babies.  Babies do NOT deserve to be formula fed, and more support and education needs to be given to women during pregnancy about breastfeeding.  As was written in my blog before about breastfeeding awareness, here are some things you can do:

  1. Write to your local legislature concerning breastfeeding.
  2. Learn more about your state laws about breastfeeding.
  3. Write to your local school, school board, all the way up to the Department of Education to inform them of the importance of breastfeeding being taught in schools, and of a breastfeeding policy in schools.
  4. Do not purchase products that are in support of formula feeding.
  5. Educate the people who make negative comments.
  6. Teach your children that breastfeeding is appropriate, normal, natural, and healthy.
  7. Write to your local hospitals and encourage them to stop passing out formula to every woman who gives birth.
  8. Attend local La Leche League meetings to learn more.
  9. Become a lactation consultant, counselor, or even just a friend who is helpful to new breastfeeding mothers.Pass on information, literature, education, support, etc to those new to breastfeeding.

A special thanks to If Breastfeeding Offends You, for offering some awesome alternatives to the Old Navy one piece outfit, for breastfeeding mothers.

As always, thank you so much for reading what I write. Please give me your opinion about this.  The floor is open, now is your chance!

Comments Welcome


Birth Changed Me

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Sydney’s friend’s mother asked me the other day how I came to this profession.  No one had ever asked me that, and I guess I’d never really told anyone.  The truth is, if someone had asked me what I was going to do with my life, I certainly would never have thought that I’d be doing THIS.  In fact, at the age of 18, with the world before my feet, I ventured off to college in Greensboro, NC, where I was ready to take on the world.  Social Work was my major, and I wanted to be a Marriage and Family Therapist.  Today, I do not believe that’s where my gifts and passions lie, nor do I want to do anything like that.

But, it was in college that I first heard about HypnoBirthing, and became dedicated to a gentle birth for my future children.  Little did I know that I’d become a HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator.  It was in 2007, when I was with my mother in Babies R Us at a Breastfeeding Fair, which was meant to be a pitstop on the way to Barnes and Noble to buy the HypnoBirthing book, because I had no idea that there were classes to help me along my journey to the gentle birth.  As I was filling out a raffle to win all kinds of baby items, I happened to glance at a sheet of paper that had the word HypnoBirthing on it.  I picked the piece of paper up, and saw that classes were offered in my area, so I flagged down the manager and asked where the distributor of the flyer was.  I was directed to Nicole, who taught my HypnoBirthing classes, attended our birth, and continues to be one of my friends.

Fast forward to my labor and birth.  July 16, 2007, at about 5:30pm, I began to feel the first of the surges, accompanied by diarrhea.  They began at 20 minutes apart, sped up to 10 minutes apart (which is when I ate dinner), then accelerated to 3 minutes apart upon entering the bath tub to relax.  My mother in law informed my husband that I was in labor upstairs in the tub, and that I was surging at 10 minutes apart, so when my husband came into the bathroom and heard me say, “I think it’s time to go”, imagine his shock.  About an hour later, we were on the way to the hospital, and were soon checked in.  We had Birth Preferences that were given to the nurse who would attend, and I was given the privacy to labor, with intermittent monitoring, vaginal exams only at my request, no mention of moving or hurrying things along, and freedom from an IV.  There were no references to pain, only to comfort level and how it could be improved, and my team was with me (husband, mother-in-law, and Nicole).

 

Relaxing during labor

As labor continued, exhaustion began to set in, and my focus became diverted to what was beginning to be translated as discomfort, and my relaxation was dwindling.  Position changes, sitting on the toilet, moving, walking, squatting, swaying, moaning, breathing, swaying, moving, moving, moving… Baby come out.  At hour 17 of labor, I said I needed “help”, and everyone in the room knew what that meant, but no one acknowledged it, they instead encouraged me, stayed with me, loved me, comforted me, took me on the journey of labor.  At hour 20, all relaxation had left, and I again spoke of needing “help”, and out of exhaustion, cried and begged.  Jeremy and I talked about it, and I told him I could not get our baby out of my body without first resting, and I was getting none with my extreme exhaustion and surges that were doing their job.

At hour 20, when help was requested, I was 10 centimeters open, but our sweet baby was not moving, no progression, just sitting there, and at hour 20, the nurse told us our baby was “sunny side up” (OP – Occiput Posterior, back of baby’s head on my back, not the optimal position for birthing a baby).  We tried one last position to get the baby to drop out of my pelvis so she could reposition correctly for birth, but to no avail.  Shortly after, help was delivered, and I drifted in and out of sleep.  I rested, and eventually was awakened so our baby could be born.  The doctor arrived, and was extremely hurried, so much so that the understanding nature, beautiful bedside manner were all gone.  Instead, the person who sat with her fingers in my vagina, stretching my perineum was a stranger to me.  Because of being medicated through epidural, I was not able to feel my natural impulses to aid my body in birthing my baby, so I had to use forced pushing.  About 2 and a half hours after beginning to push, our beautiful Sydney was born.

 

Skin to Skin Bonding

It was at that very moment that my life changed, and I know everyone says that, but a shift took place in my life.  We had never known that we would have a girl, and at that instant that she was there on my naked skin, something in me began to heal.  Years of tattered relationships with women in my life, years of hurt from my own relationship with my mother, years of anger toward her, years of not forgiving her, years of pain, were welling over with a healing power I had never experienced.  It was at that moment, when I looked at my daughter, that I knew my role as woman had been defined.  I felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation and love for her.

It was not until much later that I decided I needed to help women to give birth in a conscious, gentle manner.  I am so thankful I’ve made this choice, and so grateful for the support of my Sydney and my husband to do what I am so passionate about.  For me, birth was my defining moment, it was when I’ve felt strongest in my life, it was when I felt most empowered, most in control, and above all, I knew my body was built to give birth.  Never in my mind was there a doubt about my ability to birth my baby vaginally.  Sydney’s birth is the reason I do what I do today, it is my reason for looking forward to doing it all over again when I’m blessed to do so.  It is the reason I tell women and their birth companions that they can do it, that they are made to do it, that it is normal, natural and healthy to give birth freely, gently, consciously…

The births I have attended as a doula have all reaffirmed my belief in the power of birth.  I’ve witnessed as women became women, men became men, and they together became parents, nurturers, providers, givers, unconditional lovers of their new little life that they created together.

I do this because it has to be done, I do this because Sydney’s birth guided me to it, I do this because I believe in my entire being that women have a right to know they can give birth gently, I do this because women are powerful beings, I do this because I love it.

Birth changes me everyday.

A very special thanks to the couples who have welcomed me into their births, and to my Sydney who is the catalyst for this change.  You’ll never know how much this all means.

Comments Welcome.