Saturday, April 18, 2009
|Xanders First Days|
I left in a couple pictures that were on my camera from the belly cast that we did at 39 weeks, so you can see how big I got! There are also a couple of really attractive pictures of me during pushing--I think they are horrible pictures of me, but considering they were taken about 20 minutes before I gave birth I think they are pretty cool anyway.
Xander was born last Saturday 4-11 at 2:39pm. Obvious priorities have kept me from email, so this announcement is a bit later than I would have liked.
He watched his first UEFA cup game--Chelsea versus Liverpool--the following Wednesday and seemed to enjoy it, although he was more interested in the crowd noise than debating whether Torres' lack of direct involvement on the ball was a detriment to Liverpool or an effective decoy that created opportunities for his teammates.
I suppose I need to be patient.
Mom and baby did awesome--bloodied (mom) and bruised (baby)--but a healthy normal birth for both. Gwen did awesome. Taking no pain medicine or labor inducing hormones, her labor started slow and then surprised everybody by quickly accelerating. They called it 'spontaneous labor.'
Whoever came up with the idea that slang names for female body parts indicate weakness or a lack of toughness or endurance has never seen a natural birth.
Xander is already starting to gain weight, and mom and dad are getting some sleep!
Was hoping that tomorrow would be his first major outing for our game, but the weather looks likely to postpone that date.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Friday, April 10th, marked 40 weeks and 6 days of being pregnant. For whatever reason, I really had it in my head that Thursday was going to be the day, so when I woke up on Friday and still no signs of labor, my hormones got the better of me and I cried. I spent the day trying to keep busy and secretly wishing I hadn't been so committed to being drug free, because anyone else would have induced by now. Erik came home from work and we walked to Old Chicago's for pizza and to celebrate yet another night of "this might be our last night as a family of 2".
We got home from pizza, discussed having sex (which didn't work the night before), and got ready for bed. As I was brushing my teeth, my water broke--around 10:30 p.m. FINALLY! I called my Doula who suggested I try to get some rest, so we got in bed and Erik promptly passed out while I tried to sleep through the excitement.
About an hour later I started to feel contractions. They were more than I could sleep through, and I tried to wake up Erik to rub my back or something to make them better. Having had 3 beers at Old Chicago's, he had other ideas, but ultimately I won out.
The midwife had said don't come to the hospital until the contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, and keeping that pattern for an hour. So we decided to watch a movie. We watched "The Dentist", a predictable and cheesy horror flick about a dentist who is having a bad day. Around 2:45 the movie wrapped up and the contractions were close enough to 4-1-1 that I thought we should leave the house. We called the birth center and the Doula, loaded up the car, and off we went.
On the way to the hospital my contractions slowed down. I only had 2 in the entire 40 minute drive. The hospital sent us to "triage", something we had never discussed. I got very annoyed by their intent to check me and hook me up to monitors. After sitting in the little room for what seemed like an hour (but probably was not), the midwife showed up to check me, this was around 3:30 a.m. I had hardly progressed since my appointment on Tuesday. She suggested I go home. I was a little bit heartbroken. They kept me on the monitor for another 20 minutes and we discussed whether or not to go home with our Doula, who was also in favor of going home.
I was so stressed by the check in process and the drive and really didn't want to repeat them later in the day. Plus, I was so excited that the time was finally here that I didn't think I could stand to return to the waiting game. Another factor was that my water had broken and I had tested for GBS (Group B Strep) which meant that I was "on the clock" to be progressing within 24 hours and they said we should probably plan to be back at the hospital by 10:00. So we decided against everyone's advice to stay (we told the Doula to go home so at least one person would be rested).
We checked into the labor room around 6:30 and they started Penicillin for the GBS while Erik took a nap. At 7:00 the daytime midwife arrived and told me we had a long way to go, as was evidenced by the fact that I could have a conversation during contractions. We walked the halls and my friend Jami visited. I got an email from a friend who is a homeopath suggesting some natural methods to speed things along and we sent the Doula to go pick them up on her way back to the hospital.
Around 10:00 they came in to dose me with Penicillin again and the contractions at that point were more than I could chat through. There were no plans to do another check until around 12:00, but the nurse told me later that I was probably around 4 c.m. at this point. At almost every contraction, I felt like I needed to poop. I figured I should have gone before, and there was no way that this was the "urge to push" since the contractions were just barely getting intense. Our Doula suggested sitting on the toilette during contractions and we had a nice setup with her rubbing my back and Erik holding my hands in front of me during the contractions.
And then things changed. I had one or two really intense contractions. I mean really intense. And then I felt something coming out, which really freaked me out. Everyone kept saying "it's just a blood clot" and I was thinking, that was the biggest freaking blood clot ever. Since I was kind of panicing they paged the midwife, who took a peak and informed us that it was actually the rest of my bag of waters. I was a little too wrapped up in the moment to look for myself, but apparently it was about the size of a softball. She did something to get it out and the contractions got about 10 times stronger.
I think it took 3 people to get me to the bed for a check, where the midwife sounded surprised herself as she checked me and realized I was at a full 10 c.m. I was too far along to have time to set up the birth tub I'd been so excited for. They filled a regular bathtub and we pushed in there for a while. At one point I made a comment about changing my mind, "Sorry Speck you will be an only child", etc.
Then we got out of the tub and experimented with a variety of positions. Most of this is a blur. I remember making all kinds of grunting and howling noises during the push contractions. The baby was hung up on my pelvic bone and it took a lot to get him past it. In the end, the baby was delivered with me on the bed, lots of support behind me and holding up my legs. They set up a mirror so I could see his head which they later pushed out of the way (I realized that they were doing this so I didn't watch myself tear).
Pretty much everything from the toilette on I did with my eyes shut. It felt like pooping out a big rock. And finally (after about 2 hours of pushing), everyone said to me "Gwen, open your eyes here comes your baby!!". I opened them and peeked down to see his greyish/white goopy body being pulled from me. They gave him to me for just a second and several people seemed very concerned with towling him off. Then they whisked him away. I was so exhausted I had no clue what was going on. Xander was born at 2:39 p.m.
The midwife came back, I asked if I had torn and she said yes, second degree (which means some muscle had torn too). I have to say that the tear itself I didn't feel at all--during tearing or after. The stitches, on the other hand, were something else. I think they did some sort of a shot that was supposed to numb me, but I was so sensitive and tired that I know I squirmed with each stitch. It didnt make matters any better that she kept saying "I need to go slow so I can make sure I sew the right parts together".
I later found out that my baby had come out with his cord around his neck and that they had to cut it before he could come out all the way, which was the reason for all the chaos. As they sewed me back together I watched Erik on the other side of the room, getting to know our son as they did his tests and took his little footprints.
Then they took me to a recovery room where we all stayed for the next 2 nights. For the first full day, I felt like I was on some very intense drugs. I guess this was the hormones, as I still get a little whif of it from breastfeeding. We are home now and recovering well. I will post a "recovery" story seperately...so as not to take away from the birth story.
So that is it, Alexander "Xander" Edward Kubec's birth story. I'm pretty impressed with myself for how clearly I can remember everything. I'll get pictures online later today or tomorrow and post some recovery details as well. I'm going to post this without proof-reading, since there is a little baby boy who is due for a feeding now.
Friday, April 10, 2009
I had a really strong gut feeling that it was going to happen yesterday. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with contractions that were happening every 10-15 minutes. I was so excited. I finished packing my bag, made myself a little snack, woke up Erik... then I decided that since they weren't too intense I better get some rest, and when I woke up a few hours later they were gone. I tried to get Erik to stay home from work anyway, convinced they would come back, but he didn't and neither did they.
We did go in for the "non-stress" test. That was actually kind of interesting. They strap two monitors to your belly, one that looks for contractions and one that monitors the babies heart. They are looking for the baby to respond to contractions by an increase in heart rate. The good news is that Speck passed with flying colors...I knew he'd be a good test taker! They also do an ultrasound to make sure he's got plenty of fluid in there with him and that test resulted well too.
When I woke up this morning and realized that YET ANOTHER night had passed with no labor, I was pretty disappointed. Today's been dull, with intermittent leg pains. I got brave enough to walk to the mailbox and return a couple videos, but I've also gotten stuck several times from my hip locking up. I discovered that a heat pack on my hip during the hip locks helps, but of course I have to be able to get to the microwave to heat up the pack in order for that to work. So knowing this I have at least been able to walk around the house and go up and down the stairs a few times.
Tomorrow is Erik's day on the baby pool... apparently the numbers 9, 10, and 11 are always good numbers in soccer so Erik has hopes that the baby will be born on the 11th.
I am trying to keep in mind that the original due date wasn't till the 13th anyway. If they had never changed my due date, I'd still only be at 39 weeks. I just need to be more patient.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Yesterday we had an appointment with the midwife. She did a cervical exam and the good news is that we are making progress. At the clinic I have been going to, they are not crazy about doing cervical exams because the numbers really mean nothing in relation to when the baby is going to be born. Every birth is different and some people go straight from no progress to birth, whereas other people hang out partially dialated for weeks.
So as of yesterday afternoon, my cervix is soft but in the posterior position, I am 70% effaced, 1 CM dialated, and the baby is at -3 station. Basically, there is a lot that needs to happen still. I've had some contractions, but they are random with no pattern and not very intense. Today I've started to have some "bloody show" (I really wish there was a less gross term for it) so hopefully that means little Speckers is on his way soon.
If I haven't had the baby by Friday, I have to go in for an "NST & AFI". The NST is a non-stress test, just to make sure that the baby is still responding correctly to external factors. The AFI is a measure of how much amniotic fluid is still in there. Assuming those test results turn out OK, Speck gets to keep on hanging out till he thinks it's a good time to make an appearance.
In the mean time, leg cramps are still torturing me. Today I seem to be able to make it a little bit further before they flare up, but they are bad enough that I'm letting the mail sit in the box which is only about 3 houses away for fear of having leg cramps on the way to the mailbox and having a neighbor think I'm having contractions.
Tomorrow is a full moon. They say lots of babies are born on full moons, and frankly, I think it would be kind of cool to have the baby on a full moon. Wish me luck.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The leg cramps I was having problems with a couple of weeks ago have returned full force. I can make it about 5 steps before I get a charlie-horse like pain in my leg and need to sit down. 5 steps, by the way, is not quite enough to get from my bed to the toilette so by the time I get to the potty the cats are following me looking concerned. So I guess I'm pretty much on self imposed bed rest today. It's disappointing, because I had envisioned I would spend these final days before birth out walking, but I'm nervous to leave the house. When I'm NOT having leg cramps, my hip seems to be spontaneously dislocating itself. I've literally gotten "stuck" several times in the last week and had to call Erik to come help me get from point A to point B.
Every little ache or pain, I find myself hoping that it is a pre-labor sign. I suppose that they probably are. I've had some small and random contractions over the last week or so, but nothing to get excited about.
To make matters worse, it seems like the whole world is waiting for me to have a baby. Every time I make a phone call, the person I'm calling answers all excited thinking I've got news. I can barely even keep up with all the FaceBook comments from friends checking in. I'm starting to feel pressured!!
Speck, I don't know what you are still waiting for, but your Mom is ready! :)
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
At this point, I've pretty much got all my ducks in a row. I'm still working on picking a pediatrician and have 2 more interviews this week. I finally found day care that will take my cloth diapers (thank goodness) and got her locked into a contract. I gave up on getting the detail house cleaning done and have a cleaning lady working on it right now. Still need to pack the hospital bag...for some reason I am resisting that one, but I do have a list of what needs to go in it!
I decided to start my maternity leave a little early. I thought I was going to be a super woman and work all the way up to delivery, but I've been so distracted trying to get all these other loose ends taken care of that I decided to just give myself a break. So today is my second day of leave.
Earlier this week my grandfather died. I know it has been rough on my mom and aunt, who were both close to him. My best friend said to me "oh you are having a 'replacement baby'". If this is the case, then we can look forward to Speck having a sweet tooth, a love for animals, and an uncanny ability to fall asleep during movies. These are the things I remember most about my Grandpa!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Wow, it's been a month since I posted a real post (other than the diaper give away). Funny, because it seems like so much has happened, and yet so little.
Highlights over the past few weeks were the baby shower and the maternity portraits. I've also officially finished stocking my diaper stash, decorating the nursery, and preparing the laundry room for the many loads of laundry headed it's way. And I think I've pretty much run out of nesting energy. I'm glad I got so much done over the last few months because all I want to do now is relax.
The baby shower was very fun. My old friend Jami did a fantastic job at decorating, catering, and organizing the whole thing. All I had to do was tidy up my house before hand, and enjoy cupcakes and gifts for the rest of the day. I love to host parties at my house because it forces you to clean up, and I'm always so happy that I did afterward. I have a ton of pictures on my camera, but who knows when/if I will ever get around to uploading them.
On the same day as the shower, we took maternity portraits. We used the same photographer who did our wedding, she really is amazing. I will post one of those--although most of them were nudes and wouldn't be appropriate for Blogger! I chose Beth to do our wedding photos because I fell in love with her maternity portraits. We really love working with her, she has this amazing ability to create the mood she wants to capture and her photos always turn out great.
I'm now 38 weeks pregnant. The baby could come any day now, or he could make us wait as much as 4 more weeks. Because of my choice to use midwives instead of an OB, there are no internal checks at my weekly appointments -- we just measure the belly, listen to the heart, and answer questions. There is a part of me that is dying to know "where I'm at"--if I'm dialated or effaced at all. But the part of me that made this decision is happy just waiting. I think that knowing I was (or wasn't) progressing would tempt me away from the natural birth that I'm committed to. As far as early warning signs, the only thing happening is Braxton Hicks contractions -- which have been going on now for at least a month.
I figure if this baby is anything like his Daddy, he hates changes and will hang out where he is comfortable for as long as he can.
As for how I am feeling, I could be more comfortable but really I still can't complain too loud. Heartburn is now relentless. I've stopped eating much after around 4, but even that leaves some reflux at bedtime. My hips have had some stiffness and aching, but I added a chiropractor to the mix of care givers and can't say enough good things about her. If your reading this in your final weeks of pregnancy and are struggling with achy hips, spend the money for a chiropractor (find one who specializes in prenatal care). I have spent the last 24 hours practically immobilized by leg cramps, but I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow which will hopefully help. I guess I can say I won't complain too loud if Speck decides to make his entrance this week :)
I've also started interviewing day care and pediatricians. Not too much excitement to report there, mostly just stress at this point. Once I have those two details sorted out I will have almost everything ready. I'm pretty worried still about the "Fourth Trimester" (the time while I am on maternity leave), as I don't really have much support available. But I don't really want to go on for another 3 paragraphs about that now so I'll just stop!
Monday, March 9, 2009
I really enjoy reading this blog (link below). Make sure if you visit her page you take time to read about their adorable baby chickens.
Here is the direct link to her blog:
Monday, February 23, 2009
I've spent the last couple of months buying a little bit here, a little bit there. I've done almost all of it with my spare "spending cash", stretching a little further than normal on nail and hair appointments and other fun stuff to fit it in. We have a couple of big ticket items that are absolute necessities which haven't arrived yet, but they've been promised by grandparents so it's just a matter of getting them ordered and shipped.
The most fun thing to buy is diapers. I'm pretty committed to using cloth diapers. They are better on the environment, save money, better for baby's butt, and their so darn cute! I've bought a sampling of each type. Most people don't realize how much diversity there is in the cloth diaper world! I think most people still think "cloth diapers" and picture the big napkin things that you have to wear plastic pants over. But diapers can be so much more fun than that. Here is a mini summary of your cloth diaper options:
"Pre Folds" - these are what you get from diaper service. It's a napkin that has been sewed several layers thick to save you time. You do some diaper orogami, wrap it on baby's butt, and put a "wrap" over it. Wraps are mostly a plastic material but also come in organic options like Merino Wool. I've got 36 of these but they are infant sized. They say they can also be used as burp cloths, and I confess I've already used a few to clean up household messes. They say you should be prepared to go through about 12 a day.
"Fitted" - these are diapers that have already been sewn to fit like a disposable. They aren't waterproof so you still need a wrap, same wraps as the pre folds. I've got 6 of these made from bamboo and 2 made from hemp.
"Pocket" - this is where diapers get cute. Pocket diapers look just like disposables, only with velcro or snaps instead of sticky tape. The outer layer is made of a waterproof material, and the inner is a soft moisture wicking fleece. They have a pocket in the crotch area where you insert what I call a "stuffy". Stuffies look like maxi pads. They are thick and plush, and if you want you can put more than one per diaper for extra absorbancy. Lots of the pocket diapers come in adjustable sizes so that they can grow with baby. I have 6 of these and 5 more on the way (cuz I found a deal on ebay).
"All in One" - these are just like pocket diapers, only the stuffy is sewn in. These come in specific sizes and you have to be prepared for baby to outgrow them. I guess this is because the sewn in stuffy doesn't allow as much room for growth. I've got 6 of these too, but one has mysteriously disapeared.
I admit it, I'm obsessed. These diapers are so cute and fun. I almost can't wait to change them! I already bought the special cloth pail and pail liner. And the mini bags for the diaper bag. And I've got cloth wipes and special home made wipe fluid. And special detergent and stain treater. Erik's got the diaper bug too...last night he ordered some more because he thought we needed more hemp diapers for our stash (I think he bought 6 hemp fitted diapers + 6 extra hemp stuffies). Both drawers of my changing table are stuffed with diapers. One of the drawers is literally bursting.
My biggest stress right now is finding a day care provider who is willing to work with the cloth diapers. Like I said, I think most people envision the old fashioned diapers when you say cloth. I think we're going to have to go for a home based day care, and none of them are willing to talk to you until your ready to be a customer. I'm confident we'll find something, it's just a little stressfull knowing it will have to be a last minute decision.
I'm going to go check the mail now...expecting my ebay diapers soon...
Monday, February 16, 2009
So, the records finally showed up and our due date is now officially April 4th. This is more along the lines of what I suspected all along.
Jami and I started planning the shower this week, which is on March 8th. I sent out the invites yesterday but I guess today's a holiday so they are probably still sitting in the mailbox.
The nursery is pretty much done. I ordered some diaper accessories to go with my nice stash of cloth diapers (a diaper pail, some cloth wipes, pail liner, etc.) So I've got two shipments of diaper related stuff on the way. Also, my company sent a very generous baby gift and I had a little shopping hay-day at Target online. I love getting things in the mail!
The only things I still need are the car-seat, the co-sleeper/bassinet, and a baby! Oh, and a name might be nice too...
In the last week I've really noticed that Speck seems to be getting bigger and stronger. According to all the baby status web sites, he should weigh around 4 pounds now. And you can tell it when he moves!! I wish there was a little window so I could see what he is up to...feels like he's rearranging the furniture or something. I'm getting better at identifying what body parts I can feel (when he is still that is). Fortunately, he isn't keeping me up at night so far. Either I'm a heavy sleeper or he is very kind.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I got the P&T video from my Doula, Miranda. She lent me this along with a Men's Health article on Circumcision. It has been a couple of weeks since I decided to stop fighting with Erik on this topic, which was apparently enough time for him to be able to take in this new info without one of us getting emotional. It helps that the P&T video was hillarious. I was quite releived by Erik's reaction and think we are now near a decision on this topic!
The birth center tour was interesting. I'm glad we did it, because it was actually not quite what I expected. It is great and I'm still happy with my choice, it was just a little bit different than what was in my head and I'm glad that those differences won't be a surprise on the big day.
Erik took videos of the facility with his iPhone and sent a really cute email to our families (who are still a little concerned about the mid-wife). I thought I'd repost it here to share...
Mom and Dad-to-be and baby Kubec had a fun day today. We met other families to be with upcoming births in March or April or May, and then we went to the University of Colorado Hospital, where we will be having baby Kubec: http://www.uch.edu/
This facility was built on donation from Anschutz. We we given a personal tour of the post partum, birth, and OR rooms of the facility. I am super excited after touring the facility. Floors 4 and 5 are dedicated to birthing, natal, neonatal, post natal, natal-natal-natal, etc. We will check in on the 4th floor, where triage is located. We will have an option of a wheel chair, and then we go to the 5th floor.
This is where the action will happen!
There are about 6 birthing rooms, 6 post partum "hanging out with the baby and family" rooms, and one operating room on this floor. On the 4th floor is the NNIC: the Neo Natal Intensive Care unit. There are an additional 2 Operating Rooms on this floor. We will have one of 4 midwives, a doula, and OB-GYN at the premises. The doula we will know, the midwives we will have met, and the OB-GYN we won't have met.
We are truly blessed!
The facility is state of the art and we feel that we are so lucky to have so many choices to commit to for our birth. We are blessed to have so much information and experience to draw upon. In the past 7 months, we have gotten to intimately know the medical and insurance industries. We have found a lot of inefficiencies and scary statistics.
In infant mortality, the US ranks #28: tied with two countries that are barely considered to be western: Poland and Slovakia. Yet we spend twice as much as anyone else on childbirth. We found some strange stuff as well too:
In Holland, there are something like 60% of births done at home. Yet their infant and mother mortality rate is half of ours.
The 'mother on the back position' is physiologically the worst position for a mother to give birth in.
There is a purpose for foreskin other than to donate to the tissue bank!
There is statistical evidence that doulas and midwives make birth go easier: lower deaths, lower emergency surgery, etc.
Of course, people die in childbirth all the time, and the US has a medical industry that is best when things are at its worst: premature birth, complications etc. 100 years ago, people would die from these things. Now, they don't (as much). There has been a cost, however. Births have gotten really expensive, and we are not as effective as many other countries that look at birth as more of a natural process than an automatic medical emergency.
We have learned that normally, there is a starting postion of the unborn baby that relates to is positioning. Ideally, our little guy should start facing opposite his mom and upside down and a bit to one side (preferably to mom's left). The baby begins to make his best corkscrew olympic dive imitation and squeezes the occiput (the soft spot on his head) into the cervical opening. This is assuming he is not coming breach, or forehead first.
A natural birth normally follows from here, but sometimes goes one of many other less travelled paths.
We want to give Gwen and baby Kubec the best chance for the common natural delivery, while being completely ready for consent we will give to facilitate the success of a birth that follows another path. Our doula, midwife, and google and can help us prepare for those paths as well, and the OB-GYN is right there should we need their marvelous skill set.
We have multiple paths to physically get to the hospital should a meteor crash into I-25, and I just put top of the line Michelin tires on our 4WD (Michelin has those baby commercials). So we are ready!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The mural project went much faster than I had anticipated, even with all of the "extras" that I added on. It only took 10 days from start to finish to do the whole room, which includes painting the base color (which is a super light orange, in case you were wondering).
I am one of those people who just isn't good at creative projects. At first, I felt like I was cheating because I know that people are going to look at this and go "wow your so creative" and all I was really doing was painting by numbers. But then something changed.
As I was painting, I was thinking about how much I love the little guy growing in my belly and how I just wanted to do something special for him. And as the days went on and I got more and more into the project, I saw what it was like to be actually creating an art project because I wanted to. Not because someone told me to, but really just as a gift to my baby.
So the add ons kept coming, because I was having so much fun and was so inspired. I think that the end product turned out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself! Here are some pictures (you can either view the slideshow or click the link to view at your own pace)...
Monday, February 2, 2009
In the mean time, we had a 3D ultrasound this week. It was amazing and so much fun. Here is a link to some of the many many photos they gave us (65 JPG images plus a video--but I didn't post them all!).
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I want to start by acknowledging that a large portion of the circumcised world made the choice for religious reasons. There is a part of me that envies you, and I don't mean that to be condescending. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have some other force or authority to guide my decisions. But I am not Jewish or Muslim, which leaves me to figure it out for myself.
When I ask for opinions, it seems like the spit is probably 2/3 for circumcision and the remaining 1/3 against. Of those who are for, the reasons seem to fit into two categories: Social or Health. (I suppose there is also a third category of people who didn't really think about it, they just did it because it is the norm.)
Many people think that the baby should be circumcised so that he looks like daddy, or so that he doesn't feel out of place in the locker room. I understand that men of all ages seem to have an obsession with the penis, but I'm not sure that these are the right reasons to make a decision. It is the nature of adolescence to compare yourself to others, and I'm sure that if his penis is the same as the other boys, he'll find something else to judge and compare himself by (like the size of it). Further, with the increasing cultural diversity in our country, who is to say that having a circumcised penis will still be the norm in 15 years? The US is one of the only countries that circumcises boys for reasons other than religion.
As for looking like daddy, I wonder when this conversation occurs. Will potty training be hindered by different looking genitals? I'm inclined to think not. Single mothers are able to potty train their sons, despite not having a penis. And many boys are trained by adopted or step fathers, who might have different shaped or even different colored genitals. And how hard is it to say, "mine looks like mine, yours looks like yours, everyone has different pee-pees"?
I realize that women's genitalia play a different role in potty training and growing up, but I have to say that not once have I felt compelled to compare my labia to my mothers.
One of the most common "modern" health reasons cited for circumcision is a decreased risk of getting an STD. There is a study out, conducted in men in a high HIV risk part of the world, where they found that men with circumcised penises were less likely to contract an STD. The reason for this being that there was less risk for tearing or bleeding during intercourse. At first glance, this is compelling evidence. However, the fact of the matter remains that there is only 1 way to get an STD, and that is by having sex with someone else who has an STD. So the moral of the story on this one is: circumcised or not, stick a condom on it.
Then there is the argument that an intact penis is more difficult to clean and thus leads to increased risk of urinary tract infections. I think that it is very important to be critical of this information. Any statistic coming from a doctor or hospital is going to be weighted, because they don't see all of the little boys who don't get an infection. I wish this was a topic that were not so personal, because I'd love to take a survey of the men I know and find out which intact ones have had infection problems. I think when you boil it down, this is all about hygiene, which is something that must be taught at a young age. So just as my son will need to learn to wipe his ass, he will also need to learn to clean his penis.
For me, the infection argument draws to mind the following analogy: If doctor's found that removing my labia would decrease the risk of yeast infections, would I do it? The labia, just like the foreskin, are nothing more than protective extra tissue. They don't seem to have any specific purpose. They get dirty and must be cleaned. Natural juices and oils produced by my body stick to them. Seems like a good analogy to me. And I have to say that I'd take a yeast infection any day over having my genitals modified.
Oh wait, there are parts of the world that practice this female modification...we call it genital mutilation and we think it's bad and wrong.
It Will Be OK
So now that I've addressed the reasons why people think you should get your baby circumcised, lets look at the things that they tell you to make you feel better about having done so.
The procedure is so fast, and the baby is so young, that it's over before you know it and they don't remember a thing. That's what everyone says. Of those people, I like to follow up by asking if they were present for the procedure...most were not. For those of you who missed it, here's a video:
Now don't be a wuss...watch it with volume. It's only a 5 minute procedure, after all. (I should note that this video was flagged by YouTube for being inappropriate, and I had to confirm that I was an adult before I could watch it).
Here is where the debate gets philosophical a bit. Just because you have no memory of the pain, does that make it less harmful? Because the baby does not have language to articulate what they went through, does that mean that they were not traumatized? Erik spoke to an adult man today who was kind enough to share his personal circumcision story. He had his circumcision done at age 5, and to this day does not forgive his mother. The question is, is he mad at his mother for not having it done at birth, or is he mad at his mother for having it done at all?
Reasons For Leaving it "Intact"
I've used the term "intact" a few times in this post. This is actually the commonly accepted name for an un-circumcised penis. So are there any benefits for leaving male genitalia intact? Lets take a look.
Sensitivity. Research has shown that intact men enjoy four times more penile sensitivity than circumcised men. I ask most men: if you could go back and make your own decision regarding whether or not to be left intact, what would your decision be knowing this fact?
Pediatricians do not recommend. In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement revising their position on circumcision, stating that "the benefits are not significant enough for the AAP to recommend circumcision as a routine procedure."
Full penis length and circumference. The "prepuce" (foreskin) constitutes 50% or more of the skin system of the penis . If unfolded and spread flat, the average adult foreskin measures 60-90 square centimeters (10-14 square inches) , or about the size of an index card. The foreskin creates a visibly longer penis, especially when the foreskin extends beyond the head of the penis. Also, the double-layered tissue of the foreskin engorges with blood during erection and creates a visibly and sensually thicker shaft and glans.When the engorged foreskin retracts behind the coronal ridge of the glans, it often creates a wider and more pronounced "ridge" that many partners find especially stimulating during penetrative intercourse. The circumcised penis appears truncated and thinner than a full-sized intact penis.
Protection. The sleeve of tissue known as the foreskin normally covers the glans and protects it from abrasion, drying, callusing (keratinization), and environmental contaminants. The glans is intended by nature to be a protected internal organ, like the female clitoris. The effect of an exposed glans and resulting keratinization on human sexual response has never been studied. Increasing reports by circumcised men indicate that keratinization causes a loss of sexual sensation, pleasure and fulfillment.
Ridged bands. The inner foreskin contains bands of densely innervated, sexually responsive tissue. They constitute a primary erogenous zone of the human penis and are important for realizing the fullness and intensity of sexual response.
Gliding action. The foreskin is the only moving part of the penis. During any sexual activity, the foreskin and glans work in unison; their mutual interaction creates a complete sexual response. In heterosexual intercourse, the non-abrasive gliding of the penis in and out of itself within the vagina facilitates smooth and pleasurable intercourse for both partners. Without this gliding action, the corona of the circumcised penis can function as a one-way valve, dragging vaginal lubricants out into the drying air and making artificial lubricants essential for non-painful intercourse.
Specialized sensory tissue. In addition to the "ridged bands" mentioned above, thousands of coiled fine-touch receptors (Meissner’s corpuscles) constitute the most important sensory component of the penis. The foreskin contains branches of the dorsal nerve and between 10,000 and 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several types, which are capable of sensing slight motion and stretch, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations in texture.
The frenulum. This is a highly nerve-laden web of tissue that tethers the inner foreskin to the underside of the glans. It is similar to the frenula found under the tongue, the upper lip and the clitoral hood (female foreskin). For many intact men, the penile frenulum is a male "G-spot" that is highly pleasurable when repeatedly stretched and relaxed during sexual activity. Depending on the surgical method used, the frenulum is partially to completely destroyed by circumcision.(many of these facts taken from this site which has excellent sources)
Ok, now I realize that it is a little weird to be thinking about my baby's sex life before he's even out, but don't I have an obligation to take into consideration his entire life when I make a decision on his behalf? Maybe he'll thank me some day--although I don't imagine that's a conversation I will be comfortable having!
So, after reading all of the facts, watching the videos, talking to friends, and spending way too much time thinking about this, your probably thinking I've made a decision. My dilemma is, before I started this research endeavor, I told my husband it was his decision to make because I don't have a penis. My advice to other moms...stay involved!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I've decided to do the nursery in a jungle theme, with lots of monkeys. I chose the NoJo Day at The Zoo pattern for the bedding, which features a monkey, elephant, lion and panda bear.
Elephants on The Wall sells paint by number murals. They send you the pattern, printed on a really big piece of paper, and some carbon paper to go under the pattern. You then trace the pattern onto the wall and paint it using their number guide.
Monday, January 12, 2009
I decided to delegate this decision to the person in my home who has a penis. A decision I now regret, because I've become one of those people with a lot of opinions... Today I was looking for materials that might help persuade my decision maker to go with my beleifs, and I came across this video from some of my favorite comedians.
Warning: this video may offend many and contains adult content (but it sure did make me laugh!).
Click here for the continuation to Part 3 (I can't find Part 2 just yet but will update when I do).
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I've started keeping a list of what everyone has bought us so far. I thought I'd link it to the blog along with the registry links, so that anyone wanting to help us get ready can know what we have and what we still need.
You can click here to go directly to my spreadsheet, or I've also embedded a link in the right hand column for future reference.
Of all the things to be nervous about around being a first time parent, I think my biggest fear is the lack of resources that I feel like we have available to help. As Americans, we seem to have this notion that you should do things on your own. Many of us do not live near family and enjoy that autonomy. Other cultures do not share this "value".
I think that raising a child should be a multi generational experience. But unfortunately, we do not have family nearby and though we have tried very hard, I think that the prospects of having family living close to us for the first year of Speck's life are pretty slim. So I've given up my attachment to that idea and set off to develop my network in their place.
Most of this week's internet time has been devoted to searching for groups and other resources for baby knowledge. I've joined a few groups on Meetup, found the local La Leche League group, and even found a Stroller Fit group in my neighborhood. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks I can begin to meet some new friends to share our experience with. I've got us signed up for a Denver Pregnancy Brunch group tomorrow--which Erik is not super thrilled to be attending but I'm taking him anyway.
Probably the most enjoyable part of baby networking so far has been the online community. It seems like every day I stumble across a new baby blog. I've been trying to list them on the right, and I reccomend you check them out. It is so much fun to read about everyone else's experiences, concerns, and journeys.
This is the end of our 26th week. April 13th is only 3 more months away!
Monday, January 5, 2009
- Why is it suddenly OK for random strangers to touch my belly? I've been keeping track of belly touches when we go to social events, keeping a tally of how many touches there are and how many of those ask for permission first. If I was not pregnant, it would NOT be OK to rub my belly if you don't know me, but somehow it is now?
- All of a sudden my belly is something to be stared at. I think now maybe I have some insight into what it must be like to have big boobs or to be overweight, and to have a group of people across the room stare at you and discuss your body as if you are totally unaware of the fact that they are doing so. Or to have someone walk into an elevator and look first at my body and THEN say hello.
- Almost as unusual as people touching my belly is people wanting to talk about it. Several times now people I've never met have struck up a conversation that began with "Wow you look fantastic". I don't mind this comment of course, but it's definitely not an every day conversation starter.
- I am obsessed with watching my belly squirm. Now that the baby is big enough that his movements can be seen from the outside, I sit and stare at my belly all day waiting for the next one. What I would give for a peek inside to see just what he is up to! The movements feel so spastic, I can't imagine what he can be doing in there. Maybe he's inherited daddy's restless legs!
- Despite my rants above about people touching my belly, I secretly WANT them to share in how cool it is. I think that the thing that irks me the most is that it is ONLY the strangers who want to touch my belly. I actually spent an entire week last week with family and not one of them asked to feel the belly, which seemed a little weird to me considering the number of people I don't know who can't seem to resist.
- Dempsey, my 14 pound orange tabby cat, is having a really difficult time figuring out how to snuggle now. He used to stand on my stomach and nuzzle his nose up under my chin, but now my stomach and boobs are all so tender that I cry out when he steps in the wrong spot and now he's scared to step on me at all.
- Still no stretch marks!!
- Last week my midwife measured my bump and I found out it is exactly the size it should be. I learned that before ultrasounds, the only way they had of measuring the baby's growth was to measure your stomach. The idea is that once you are past 20 weeks the measurement from your pelvic bones to the top of your uterus should equal the number of weeks you are at. For example, I was 25 weeks at my appointment and it was exactly 25 centimeters from the top to bottom of my belly. How crazy is that? Even crazier is that this means I can expect to grow another 15!!
Friday, January 2, 2009
Looking forward a year, I imagine that little Speck will be smiling, laughing, learning about solid foods, and toddling around the house. YIKES! We will probably spend the next year dealing with day care, diapers, doctors visits, child proofing, new sleep schedules, and many other things that I don't even know that I don't know about.
Hopefully 2009 will be a year filled with celebration and family. Only 3.5 more months to go till Speck arrives! Better hurry up and think of a real name soon :)