Monday, March 31, 2008

What Does the Future Hold?

So, what do I think that God is doing...all the childbirth stuff and me and how does it all fit together?

Well, it really started when I was pregnant with Hadley. We took those Bradley Method classes you know and I also really got into studying prenatal fitness. So much so that I contacted a couple of prenatal fitness organizations to inquire about getting certified...and even took steps to get my personal trainer's certification.

It was very exciting, but just not the right timing for all of that. Although I didn't end up going through with it all, the interest never left...helping pregnant women, teaching them about their bodies and how to best use them, etc. I continued to read a ton in that area of interest and just be so enthralled with it all.

Fast forward to today, here in Brasil, where there is such a void of any kind of education. The clinic I go to, where my doctor practices...I actually saw the other day that a lady works there who does prenatal fitness. Very cool. So, it's not like it doesn't exist at all, but it is just very rare. And even rarer are the women who are even interested in doing things like that...studying about their bodies, doing things the natural way...prenatal fitness, birthing in a natural way (I'm basically talking vaginal here...lots of women aren't even interested in that, even with the use of an epidural), etc.

I've always been super intrigued with the role of a midwife. I am a nurse already, so with further training I would be able to be a nurse midwife...some have asked me if I was interested in that in the past. But, I am absolutely not. :) Will that ever change? Of course it could, but I doubt it somehow. That would scare the living daylights out of me I much responsibility. No, I think I am definitely more suited for a support role. Besides, here in Brasil there would be much more opportunity to work in that support role rather than as a midwife I believe.

So, what does that mean? Here are my current thoughts: I would love to become a doula and childbirth educator. Those are things that I've been interested in for a long time, but the need for it here has pushed it into being much more than just an interest. It's pretty exciting.

Right now of course I'm just in the looking-into-it stage. Again first thoughts are that I will do what I can here and then get the rest of the requirements done (things like attending required workshops) when we go back to the states on furlough. There is actually a doula here that I'm in contact with and she told me about the childbirth ed. course they have here...suggested that it might be something that I can do here before I even go back. We'll see what happens.

Again, very excited about this opportunity. I think if presented in the right way it could really be of help here in Brasil. What do I mean by that? Well, I don't ever want to come across as the American who thinks her way is best. I truly don't feel that way. O.K., I think our food is better. But Brazilians think theirs is better, so we're even. :) But anyway, as long as it's not presented in a my-way-is-better kind of long as information is given and experiences shared...and as long as it's done with the heart of the best interest of the mom and baby at the forefront...that's what I mean. I think that there is real potential here for this being not only a great help, but also a great ministry opportunity. I don't want to push these things on anyone, but I would love to see these things as at least an option to the women here. I think if they had more education about it all, there would be more interest.

So...those are my thoughts as of now regarding that whole area and how it fits into my life. We'll see how it all pans out, won't we? I'm excited and will keep you posted as it all happens in the next few years.

First things first though...PORTUGUESE. :) Can't really teach or share anything without that. More on that and how I will go about that "learnin'" with a newborn now in a later post.

The picture: I realized yesterday that I didn't have any pictures of just me and Cass except for the ones right after birth...although beautiful, I thought it best if we get one of us all cleaned up too, right? That's the only picture for today...more later.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


The news report went well. We were on yesterday at noon. It was really fun.

First of all, their coverage of us was really good. Joel said they did a great job and everything they said was accurate...except they said we live in a missionary compound. :) Funny.

They showed Cass being born and talked about the benefits of birth this way...both natural and in water. It was done in such a positive light and just very well done in general. They interviewed us and our doctor. It really was a story about water birth. But, that's ok...I mean if ladies decide to do vaginal, even if they only want to do it in water...whatever it takes to get them to do vaginal (and not automatically schedule a c-section), that's what's important, right?

It was so know how on morning shows sometimes they have featured bands that will play a couple of songs there in the studio? Well, after our segment there was a band there doing that. It was a band of 4 young guys. When it switched to their segment, they just kept talking about our story and talking about how they were married and that looked like a great way to have a baby. They had this big discussion about it and even showed the footage of Cass being born again. They used part of that next segment for more of our story...and the band guys were really into it. It was so funny. We were cracking up.

Anyway, we were pleased. All the other kids got a little air time too, so that was fun. We should be getting a DVD of our segment at some point. When we do we will try to put it on the web for you to see.

Truly, there have been so many other doors open for all this already. The morning I went into labor our pediatrician here in town called and asked if we could help another American couple here...they are wanting to have a homebirth too. There are other things happening in this whole realm of just coming alongside others who are working to get natural births to be the norm here in Brazil...really getting women the education they so desperately need here. It's exciting.

Oh, another really funny thing about the newscast: Here at the seminary they have a cafeteria where everyone eats their meals. Yesterday at noon they had rigged up a TV in the cafeteria and were watching the news during their meal. We had no idea...didn't even know they knew about it. So funny! When Joel went to take the kids to Port. class they told him how we got a standing ovation at the part where Cass was born and everyone was just hooting and hollering in the cafeteria. So crazy. Some of our other friends called afterwards to tell us they'd seen it. It really was fun and hopefully it will help to spur on some change. I'll talk more about what I feel like God might be doing with me in that area later. It's all very exciting stuff.

Now, some pictures that were taken last night...

Gifts were given to us yesterday by "the Germans." That's what Joel calls them. They are our neighbors and they are from's just funny. Anyway, they gave Cass a cute little Peter Rabbit outfit and the other kids a Caillou DVD. They got the treat of eating supper in the TV room and watching their new video.
This is the son of Ricardo and Denise (our neighbors, friends, and fellow Asas missionaries...they were here for the birth), Pedro. He's been dying to see the baby since she was born. He actually wanted to come for the birth. :) He was finally able to make it down and take a gander at the little one.
My little multi-tasking babysitters.

Sweet sister sugars.

Cass's first time in her swing.

Friday, March 28, 2008

2 Days With Cass

Cass is officially 2 1/2 days old now. :) Things are going really well. I am recovering pretty quickly since I didn't have to have stitches or anything. But, I'm still taking it easy too. Yesterday I was up and about a little too much since we had the news people here. Then last night, to top it all off, I stood alot to clean our room a bit. Yeah...after that I knew it was time for bed and that I had overdone it. The plan for nothing. Relax in the bed with Cass like I did the first day.

The pediatrician was supposed to come yesterday afternoon/last night to check Cass again. Well, instead she came this morning, waking me and Cass up at 7:30 (without calling beforehand). Not a happy Mama here. So, it was a rude awakening and a bad start to the day, but we plan to recuperate here in bed.

My milk came in yesterday morning and all is great there. So very thankful. Cass is nursing perfectly and sleeping very well. She's smiling some too, but we have yet to get a good picture of it.

I don't know what happened to me yesterday. I guess I was just a little distracted. But, I didn't even think to take pictures when the reporter and cameraman were here. So, there is no documentation or interesting pictures to show you. So unlike me. Didn't even cross my mind.

The other kids are doing great. Joel is showing some wear and tear. :) But he usually gets a little break in the afternoons when the kids are at Port. class and Eissa is sleeping. And Eliane has been here every morning, so that helps a TON. She's been cooking for us to have food to eat until she gets back. She worked out a new schedule so she can be here every morning (except Friday) instead of 2 full days. It's worked out so great for us and helped us so much during this time. What a blessing she is!!

And now for some pictures from the last 2 days...

She decided she wanted to lay down with her.
And then back up with her again.

One thing was for sure...she did not want to let go of her new "doll."
Oh, Daddy's got a surprise for us.
Way too excited.
These eggs are the big thing here in Brasil at Easter. They are everywhere.
Chocolate is always a hit.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

News Interview Update

Just wanted to post a bit about the news story and interview that I sent an email out about this morning. For those of you who didn't get that email, it said this:

Our doctor told us last night that a local news station in Goiania had gotten word of our homebirth. They called him and wanted to do a piece on interview, show some birth footage, etc. He told them he wasn't going to give them our information, but would ask us. We thought it was a great idea and so they called this morning.

They will be coming over here at 2pm this afternoon. They will be interviewing us and getting the footage of the birth. Joel said the reporter seemed to be very pro normal in vaginal. Since "normal" birth around here usually means c-section though, this is a very important piece. It's actually very important to us. We definitely want to be used in any way possible to show that there is a better way. The c-section rate here is 80-90% depending on what area you live in. We hope to see that change during our years here in Brazil. Obviously not everyone has to have a homebirth, but it should be made an option as well. So, we're excited to see what will come of this.

Will you pray with us about this interview? Pray that just the right footage be shown, just the right words be said, and that the language barrier would not be an issue. Also, Cass is only about 36 hours old. I am very much still in that postpartum phase of course. The older 2 kids will be at Portuguese class and Eissa will most likely be napping, but still...there is always room for a little chaos with a newborn. Cass is SUPER calm and easy so far, but just pray that this afternoon just go smoothly. Thank you so much.

As I said, they are coming at 2pm. That is 12pm Central time. Thanks so much for your prayers. We really appreciate it.

It went really well. We gave them footage of our births with Cass and Eissa. They asked tons of questions. It seemed to be focused alot on water births and not necessarily homebirths, although of course we stressed our preferences and reasonings on choosing homebirths. They were supposed to go and interview our doctor this afternoon as well. It will be interesting to see how it actually comes out.

It is supposed to air tomorrow. We don't even get local channels here, so hopefully Joel can rig up some rabbit ears or something so that we can see it real-time. We should be able to get some footage from the station themselves either way.

Like I said, it went really well. We hit if off really well with the reporter and the camera man. It was very interesting to be a part of a news interview and see how they set things up. We still don't know how they found out about us. We asked them, but the reporter was just assigned our story by her producers and didn't know how they heard. Amazing.

Also, wanted to clarify quickly here, just to make sure you know my heart...
I in no way think c-sections are evil. They definitely have their place and are sometimes very necessary, as are most interventions necessary sometimes (although rarely in my opinion). That is not and should not be the norm though. The bottom line is a healthy mama and healthy baby. But, any interventions, including c-sections, are way more often than not, unnecessary...and even worse for the health of the mom and baby. There should never be an 80-90% rate of c-sections, that's for sure. This is mostly fear-based and so that's just what we hope to counteract in the area of birth in Brasil. It's exciting to see doors continually open here for that. We'll see what happens. Very exciting.

Scroll down for Cass's birth story if you haven't seen it. More pictures of that sweet little girl and her big brother and sisters tomorrow, along with more updates.

P.S. Another temporary blog template here. The one I had from Pyzam stopped showing my blog posts where they were supposed to be (or was that just on my computer...tell me what you saw when you opened my blog...did you have to select the individual post from the list in the right to be able to see the latest post?). The one I want from Pyzam did the same thing. So, we are back to this one from Blogger...just temporarily probably. Anyway...that's the story on the new template...again.

Cass's Birth Story

This baby, our 4th child, was due March 22nd. On Thursday, March 20th, I had a bit of bloody show. I lost a bit more of my mucus plug after that, but nothing else was really going on. I was having some contractions every now and then, but nothing unusual. Almost every night, though, I would feel like it was surely going to be that night. By the end of the day every day, I was having more contractions and lots of pressure. Still, nothing happened. Until...

The morning of March 25th I woke up at 5:30am with a huge contraction...a this-is-for-real labor contraction. I went to the bathroom and lost a ton of my mucus plug/had bloody show and felt like labor would start immediately. I went back to bed, but contractions were not really coming. So, I decided to get up and walk around a little. I again had to go to the bathroom and lost more of my plug. So, I then just decided to go ahead and tell Joel about it. I wasn’t sure how long I would have and how long it would take to fill up the birth pool with water and get it heated for me.

So, Joel got up and started getting the pool ready. I walked around a lot and we just did all sorts of things to get ready. I was having contractions, but nothing consistent, regular, or close together. This, unfortunately, is how it went ALL DAY LONG. The same thing had happened with Hadley (if you remember her birth story) and I was wiser this time for it. I felt like that same thing was probably going on this time...that I had a posterior cervix. No amount of walking or any of those things were going to help. So, I just took it easy all day. I even went to bed and rested...twice...being able to doze both times. We had called the doctor to tell him everything that was going on and kept in touch with him throughout the day. We told him what we expected was going on around 1 or 2 in the afternoon and he said that he’d just come over after he finished his scheduled appointments. He got here a little after 6pm.

He had some supper with us and then at 6:30pm he checked me. Sure enough...a posterior cervix. I had a nice contraction while he was checking me. He got done and told me I was about 2 ½cm...not bad for not even having regular contractions at all. I was about 40% effaced. He had pulled my cervix forward, but didn’t think it would stay. We sat there and talked options as far as he was concerned. He just happened to be on call that night...and the pediatrician that was accompanying him in the birth was supposed to ride over with him to our house. So, he was thinking he was going to go ahead and go back to Goiania, tie up some loose ends, and get the pediatrician. He planned to head on back over to our house around midnight if we hadn’t called him before.

Well, while we were talking about all of this, the contractions just kept coming. They were every 6 minutes at first. He started making phone calls to see how to make things work with his ‘on-call’ see about the possibility of him just staying. During this time, the contractions quickly started coming every 5 minutes and then every 4 minutes...and getting stronger. We all quickly decided that the doctor wasn’t going anywhere. :)

Around 8pm, our friend and neighbor Denise came down to sit with me (and the doctor) while Joel showered the kids and put them to bed. I continued to just progress...the contractions getting stronger and stronger, lasting longer, and getting closer together. During this time they were coming every 3 minutes.

Our friend Kristin came around 9pm. Our other friend Lailah came probably about 15 minutes later. I was still smiling and talking between contractions when Kristin got here, but by the time Lailah came that was no longer the was serious time. I think around 9:12 the doctor checked me again and I was 4cm. Then around 9:29 I was 5cm. I think these were the times, because I remember Kristin remarking that I had dilated a whole cm in a matter of 17 minutes.

The contractions were coming fast and strong. In fact, starting at 9:03, they began to come every 2 minutes (Kristin was writing it down...that’s why I know). I knew it was getting to be time to get in the pool. My goal was to get to 6cm before getting in. At 9:35 I asked the doctor to check me again. I was 6 cm and 80% effaced. I had one more contraction in the bed after he checked me and then headed to the pool. I got in that nice, relaxing, warm water and had a little bit of a break. Instead of a contraction 2 minutes later, it was 4 minutes later. I had a couple of contractions in the pool and started feeling really pushy. It was pretty intense. After each contraction I would feel to see if I could feel the head...I was feeling more and more pressure and could feel the baby traveling down. After a couple of contractions, probably on the 3rd one, I started pushing (oh, and I had already done my birth tradition of vomiting, so I knew it was time). :) The doctor wasn’t even in the room at that point. Everyone came running in (they heard the tell-tale sounds of pushing) and moments later I caught Cass...out in one big push. The doctor was still putting on gloves I think. It’s funny to see me do it all myself on the video (Joel was there the whole time, wiping my forehead with a wet washcloth and spurring me on). Cass was born at 9:50.

It was quick and intense and wonderful. Cass was MUCH smaller than my biggest baby...almost 3 pounds smaller actually. That coupled with the warm water and that better knowledge of pushing that I gained before Eissa’s birth...NO TEARING!! So very exciting and I can already tell...SUCH a huge difference in the recovery aspect.

What else was I specifically praying for personally as far as labor and delivery? No back labor. It was amazing. I can’t say that I had NO back labor...I did still feel it in my back. But, it was not nearly as bad and I actually stayed in the sitting up position the whole time with this labor. I had pillows in my back and this seemed to do the trick for the amount of back labor I was having. Seriously...night and day from the last labors as far as back labor. Joel never once even pressed on my back...and that is usually his stance during each contraction during my labors.

Other answered prayers (there were many):

1. I wanted a short, but manageable birth (not too short). But, I also didn’t know how that would be possible and still be able to do everything we needed to do to prepare once labor began, i.e. take care of the kids, get the pool filled and warm, get the sheets changed on the bed, etc. Although it was such a nuisance in Hadley’s labor (since we had no idea what was going on), that posterior cervix surely served its purpose in this labor. Since we had a good feeling what was going on, we were able to get everything done and even rest up for the action we knew was coming up. Everything was just perfect in its timing.

2. I have never wanted anyone else at my births...only me, Joel, and the midwife. Well, this time we didn’t have a midwife...we had a doctor who was also a man who also doesn’t really speak English. There were going to be no women at the birth except the pediatrician who was not all into the whole homebirth thing anyway...didn’t think I’d be getting super great support and coaching from her...and she doesn’t speak English either. We really started praying about having others here and it all worked out perfectly...just the right people were here and we loved it. As Joel put it, “it was the most fun birth ever.” :) Such help they were...with the kids (when they woke briefly), with taking pictures and videoing, with running to get this or that, with writing stuff down that we needed to remember, and with just basic support of the labor. It was perfect.

3. I have never wanted to have our kids at the birth either...thought it’d be too distracting. Our plan was for them to come be with us during the pushing stage. But, pushing got here and it was a little more intense than last time. Last time, the pushing stage was very relaxed and calm. This time I was working hard and fast and so it just didn’t happen that the kids were brought out. But, the point is that they were there in the house with us the whole time and I loved that. We woke them up to see Cass first thing and even though they weren’t all that into it at the time (although Eissa actually stayed to hang out for a while...the other 2 just wanted to go back to bed), they were still here and I liked that. We had wondered how it would work, but it was perfect since they were sleeping during my laboring part.

4. The homebirth here went off without a hitch even though it is extremely rare (more like unheard of) here. We are so very thankful for our doctor. There were a few “glitches” in the system: 1) he had gotten others to pack up the stuff he needed from the hospital and apparently some things were left out; during part of the labor (the end), he had our friend Ricardo leaving to go get some things; they were things that we didn’t end up needing, but just things that if we would’ve needed, weren’t here, so that was a little crazy for everyone involved (except me...I was a little focused on other things at the time and totally at peace not worrying about stuff like that); 2) the pediatrician didn’t get here until about an hour after Cass was born...ha ha ha; that was definitely not the plan, but thankfully we really didn’t need her...all was well and everyone was extremely healthy. I think it went perfectly though, esp. considering that our doctor had never done a homebirth before. As my mom said, if he ever gets the chance to do another one, he will be more aware of what he needs and how to do was a great experience for him. Speaking of that, just yesterday we were asked by our pediatrician’s office here in town about our doctor. Apparently another American couple here is wanting a homebirth, so they were given our contact info. so that we can pass on all the information we learned during this whole process. Is this the start of homebirth sweeping the nation of Brasil? :)

So, as you can see, I think it was perfect. Just perfect. It’s nice to be “on the other side of birth” as Joel’s aunt puts it. But, I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful experience. SUCH a blessing.

And now...a LOT of pictures of that special day.

Filling the pool.
Hadley was the first one up that morning. Here she is checking out our morning activities.
She was SO excited to see that pool being filled. She knew what that meant.
Daddy's little technical helper...with the multimeter Joel used to check the water temperature.
Just hanging out during the day. We had to get a couple of pictures of Eissa sitting on the pregnant Mama belly's tradition now.

The kids just beside very. super. excited. :) They did not want to leave the room. The doctor was there and they knew that meant the baby would soon be here. They thought it would be immediately.
The contractions starting after the exam.
Tight contractions.
Look at that totally lopsided belly during a contraction. The goal is to relax every muscle in your body and let the uterus do its work. It's hard work. The contractions were starting to get serious at this point.
Kristin watching her watch, timing contractions. Denise also nearby.

Very intense time.
Time for Cass to come.
Cass's first picture. The hard work is over. Whew.
Cass had already pooped in the womb. Since she still had that cheesy stuff on her (I know it's called vernix, but we just call it "cheese"), she was just a brownish/yellowish little girl. I won't post another placenta picture, but even it was brownish/yellowish. Grady had already pooped in the womb too, but he didn't have much cheesy stuff, so you couldn't really tell by looking at him. Both were just fine though...Cass just needed a bath. :)

I love this picture. Cass: "What in the world just happened?!?!?!?"
Hadley...oh so sleepy.
Grady and Eissa checking things out too.
The older 2 on their way back to bed. Eissa stuck around for a while.
Proud Daddy.

Eissa checking out her little sister.
My wonderful "doulas"/support system. :) Denise, Lailah, Kristin, Dr. Luiz, and Ricardo (Denise's husband; and Eissa). Ricardo wasn't really in the room usually, but helped so much in other ways. :)
Me nursing Cass while Lailah and Denise review the footage. :)
Cass hardly made a noise after big cries or anything...just enough to let us know she was just fine. SUCH a calm, peaceful baby. She still hasn't cried much. :)

Getting checked out by Daddy.

Getting weighed in.
Putting in eye drops.
The pediatrician.
Getting all measured up.
Look at that major thumb-sucking. Funny...she hasn't found that thumb again, but she was sucking it bigtime then.

Our wonderful doctor that enabled us to have this homebirth.
First bath.