We all have our fears, whether we like to admit them or not. For me, it's heights. I love the mountains, but don’t ask me to stand near a cliff. I ain’t doing it!
But why does childbirth have to be one of those common fears? In a world full of fiercely independent and strong women, I have to wonder...why are we so afraid of something that is so natural?
I'm not writing this as a way to bash women who have fears where childbirth is concerned. That is a legitimate feeling. What I want to do is uncover why the fear is there in the first place and how to deal with it.
Unfortunately, we live in a society whose media loves to dramatize birth...in the worst way.
The simple truth is, we fear that which we do not understand. And even if you take a childbirth class, 99% of them are just classes teaching you tips, tricks, and methods to make it less painful.
Can I just be blunt with you? There is no easy fix to birth. You've grown a human inside your body. The placenta alone leaves an open wound inside your uterus, regardless of how you give birth.
I believe what parents really need is an education on what's happening during labor and birth. What is it that is happening to your body to cause the pain? What options might you be presented with in your birth setting? What are your options in birth setting, drugs or no drugs, and what are the side-effects of those choices?
We live in a "get rich quick" society. Maybe it's really always been that way. Maybe it's gotten worse with the internet and smartphones with endless information at our fingertips. Yet, even with all that information out there, we still lack basic understanding of childbirth.
Enter: Birth Boot Camp.
Birth Boot Camp is not a method. It's not a quick fix. It's not a get out of jail free card.
It IS education, an investment, and power through knowledge. I believe in Birth Boot Camp because it is pure education. Options you didn’t know you had, decisions you never thought about, and variations of normal you didn’t know were normal...all of this and more is covered in class, as well as comfort measures, relaxation techniques, and labor positions.
Birth does not have to be scary. Knowledge is powerful. You can have an amazing and powerful birth! After all, birth matters. But that’s a discussion for another day...
If you've done any research about birth online, then you've probably run across this topic. How to write a birth plan. What goes into a birth plan? The visual birth plan. Blah blah blah.
Some couples swear by birth plans. They have to have them. They stress over every detail. Writing, rewriting, and revising them over and over again. But what is the purpose of birth plans? To control the way your birth goes?
To make sure that it plays out like a play so everyone knows their lines?
Not in the slightest.
So why do people insist on writing them? Are they actually necessary? Are you DOOMED if you don't have one??
Don't worry! If you don't have one it's OK!!
The real purpose of a birth plan is to simply allow you to think about different options and scenarios. When you write out a birth plan, it allows you to visualize all the things you may not have thought of. By doing this, there is no decision making on the spot. Think of it like the rehearsal to your wedding. Do weddings always go 100% as planned? No, but the rehearsal gives everyone an idea of your wishes, non-negotiables, and allows you to play out different ways things might go or issues that might arise.
It also gives couples an opportunity to discuss things that they may have thought they were on the same page about. While mom may have assumed that dad would cut the cord, dad may not feel super comfortable with it. Dad may have assumed that mom would want her mom there and/or other family members, but mom just wants it to be them. Every family is different. One birth plan is not going to work for everyone, which is why it's important to go over the options.
Mama Natural has a great free visual birth plan template HERE.
A birth plan can help you make informed decisions, but one of the best ways to know what those options are is to take a childbirth education class like Birth Boot Camp. Birth Boot Camp is a 10 week class that covers the process and stages of labor, care provider options, building your birth team, common tests and procedures during pregnancy, labor, and for newborns, fitness and nutrition for a healthy pregnancy, breastfeeding, life with a newborn, and so much more. Find a Birth Boot Camp class near you HERE. You can also take online classes HERE.
Looking back now, I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. I'm a woman of many passions and hobbies. Clearly, from the title of this blog you can see that I love country music. Well, I really just love good music, but for me that just happens to be country music. I still have some hefty goals in that area and skills I want to work on and sharpen, as well as new things I'd like to learn.
But in this season of life there's something else I'll be learning.
When I was little I was always that kid who would work in the nursery, babysit, etc. I loved kids. And I guess the obvious assumption was that I'd be a teacher. So that's what I went to school for. It didn't take me long to realize that teaching was NOT my calling! But I still didn't know what was. So I prayed and asked God to open doors, and He did. Just not how I would expect.
One Cross Cultural Studies degree and a marriage license later, I found myself pursuing a different dream. One that is still very much a part of my heart. I worked for a radio promotions company and LOVED it. Sure, I was the lowest man on the totem pole in that industry, but I didn't care. I had a very small part in getting new artists in the spotlight and getting them their time on the radio waves and that was worth every call or email of mine that went ignored.
But the passion for babies still remained. Of course I wanted my own (which I have now), but it goes beyond that. I remember in college my roommates always saying, "you just want to have babies!" But that did not sit well with me. That wasn't it at all! I mean, I did and I certainly want more, but my dream was never to be June Cleaver. I wanted more than that. So, when I started teaching Birth Boot Camp classes, I figured that was it. I LOVE teaching these classes! I love that it's consistent and that I can still stay home with my son during the day. I love seeing moms and dads as those lightbulbs turn on. But it didn't take long for something else to come up.
About four or five years ago I was hanging out with my husband's cousin's family. His wife and I were chatting (she had just had a baby) and she introduced me to The Business of Being Born. That movie is just one big can of worms.
I told her she should become a doula, but with a husband that worked sometimes odd hours and the fact that she had just recently given birth to her third child, the possibility just didn't seem to be there. At that point, she was the only person I knew who used a midwife or was naturally minded, so it really never crossed my mind to be a part of that industry. I honestly didn't know there were many others out there.
But here we are. Looking back now, I laugh at that. I should've seen then--I wish I had seen then. All the babysitting, nursery working, and childcare wasn't leading me to teaching. It was leading me to the birth world. The birth of my own son was what gave me the final push. There was and is a need. I see it every day all over Facebook. A need for couples to know their options, a need for couples to be empowered, and a need for laboring moms to be supported. There's a mile long list of reasons why I'm passionate about birth, but I say all this to tell you...I'm officially training to be a doula. This November I'll be training with Birth Boot Camp to become a certified doula. It's been on my mind and heart for a few years, but I was always scared...scared of the on-call lifestyle, scared of leaving my son too much (especially when he was still nursing), scared of getting pregnant or having a newborn at training (clearly that's not happening now!), but I just got tired of being scared. I'm tired of fears holding me back.
So here we go...
P.S. If you or anyone you know is looking for a doula after the new year, let me know! ;)
P.P.S. Please enjoy this PHENOMENAL song and video by John Baumann. Freaking amazing. Better yet, go see him live.
Everyone's favorite artist was once a new artist who nobody knew. A new artist just chasing a dream and taking a chance. One of those new artists who is now a favorite of mine is a man named John Baumann.
I'm super picky about which musicians and artists I like. I'm not the type of girl who says they're a fan of just anyone. It's not just about the music, but the person behind the microphone. Do they write they're own music? Play their own instruments? Are they humble and kind people? Now, I realize that even the king of country (George Strait, duh!) rarely writes his own music and that doesn't make him any less amazing, but it's definitely something I consider. For me, when you listen to someone play a song that they wrote from the heart, it just makes it that much more raw and authentic.
This weekend I went to a concert and at the very end as the band was leaving the stage, they had on the backdrop projection screen "music is medicine". Oh, how very true that is.
Especially John's music.
John isn't just an ordinary songwriter. He's a storyteller. And there is a huge difference.
I got a chance to listen to his new album that will be released soon and was absolutely blown away. He's always been an incredible musician and songwriter, but with this album, he took it to another level. Each line of the songs have been stripped of fluff and junk to reveal this very vulnerable and unembellished side of John.
This is what great albums and artists are made of.
He's got three records available on iTunes now (Departures, West Texas Vernacular, and High Plains Alchemy) and one coming soon. Download them and let the healing begin.
They say music is medicine. John Baumann is my medicine man.
I don't know what we would've done without having taken Birth Boot Camp classes. About mid-afternoon, things really started to pick up. My parents "snuck" some lunch in for me. Those few bites of the sandwich were heavenly...for about a minute. I don't usually throw up...I hate it! But I knew it was a good thing. It meant my body was opening up.
As the contractions got harder and closer together, I stopped noticing what was going on around me. I remember my sweet sister-in-law coming in at one point, but I couldn't hear a word she said. Her mouth was moving, but I didn't hear a thing! A little later a new nurse came in and needed to take my blood-pressure, but since the contractions were basically overlapping, my blood-pressure was sky-high! I've been told that I simply told her "can you please not do that right now?" Evidently, I'm nicer than even I thought! Ha!
Backstory: When my mom was in labor with my brother, things stalled for her. In fact, my dad had signed the papers for a c-section when her doctor suggested she go to the bathroom as a last ditch effort. It worked!
So, when I got near the end, the hospital midwife checked me. I could only hear them whisper, but I got the feeling I was close. I hoped it was! I told Gene I couldn't do it anymore. (Another great sign!) But then Gene was signing papers and I had no idea what it was for. For a minute I got really scared. But then they told me it was time to go to the birthing tub! Finally!! There was just one problem...
It was on the complete opposite end of the labor floor.
I didn't look to see where I was going. I have no idea how long it actually took to get there. All I remember is leaning on my husband and watching the bright yellow hospital socks move less than an inch at a time the whole way. When we finally got there, it was heaven on earth. They had (fake) candles everywhere, the lights dimmed down low, worship music playing, and oils diffusing. Somehow I managed to climb in the tub and I remember thinking it was hotter than I was expecting, which was so wonderful!
When my husband and I had discussed how things might happen, I asked if he wanted to be in the tub with me. He politely declined, which didn't bother me at all, but I did pack his swim trunks just in case! So, when they got me settled in the tub, he asked if I wanted him in there with him and I quickly said "YES!" In the blink of an eye he had changed and was right there with me. Goodness, I love that man! My sweet, wonderful midwife was right by my side and was such a peaceful presence. My other midwife was pouring water on my back, and while I didn't know who was doing it at the time, it was SOOO relaxing!
It didn't take long before I felt the urge to push. Nobody ever told me when to push or for how long. They had even disconnected me from the Pitocin. I was doing it!! Finally, my body was doing what it was supposed to! The closer he got, the more my face got closer and closer to the water.
I believe I only pushed for about 15 minutes. Suddenly, he was here! The nurses had flashlights and were watching. They said he was born en caul! When he came out, my husband gently guided him forward and I picked him up out of the water. I remember being so scared I was going to drop him, so I probably held on a little tighter than I should have, ha!
He had finally arrived and our whole world changed.
I honestly don't even remember delivering the placenta. Before I knew it, I was climbing out of the tub and climbing up on a bed to be stitched. I only had minor tearing and I was too infatuated to the new boy in my life to even really pay attention.
Our sweet Jellybean Jr. had finally arrived!!
My husband, our two midwives, my mom, and the amazing staff at the hospital were all so unbelievable! But most of all, the education we received in our Birth Boot Camp classes made all the difference. Not just the knowledge, but the communication and bonding we experienced beforehand was invaluable.
While I don't necessarily feel completely qualified to write blog posts on birth (it's not for lack of education, but because there are just plenty of other people who could do a MUCH better job), I am learning how to do it. I figured the natural place to start would be the birth of my only child (so far). We'll call him, Jellybean Jr. I'm not a medical professional, nor am I in any way trying to tell women what they should do. This is just my story. And my son's story.
My husband and I had decided long before we were expecting our son that we wanted to use midwives. We were excited about using the nearby birth center and our sweet midwives became more like family as the pregnancy went on. I was healthy, low-risk, and had an overall completely uneventful pregnancy. My due date was April 6th (the day after Easter). I was sure of the dates. So, when April 6th came and went, I was ok, but I knew it would be soon.
I remember sitting in a Good Friday service at church and every now and then feeling a tightening of my belly, but it never went anywhere. My mom came to stay with us after Easter, so there was no being still. She kept me moving. I was both grateful and completely resentful of this. We went to the park every single day (the trail was over 2 miles, which is a LOT for a woman past her due date!) and the day it was raining, we went to the grocery store instead. That was a bad idea, by the way. It was a stormy spring and a tornado literally went right over the building. She had me huddled in between toilet paper packages.
The days kept coming and going and I was becoming more and more restless. We were having regular non-stress tests and ultrasounds to make sure Jellybean Jr. was doing ok, which he was. They tried sweeping my membranes and could hardly reach.
Finally, while on the phone with my midwife, it was suggested that my mom go home for a few days and see if that helps. I remember being on my knees by my bed weeping while I was talking to my midwife. I have no idea why I was crying. No, actually I do. I was over 42 weeks pregnant!
So, she went home, but nothing changed. We went in on a Wednesday (42 weeks 2 days) for yet another NST. This time, during the ultrasound it was determined that my fluid levels were getting a little low. To be fair, I did not drink as much water as I should have been, so that's on me. The midwife there (different birthing center because they were the only ones with an ultrasound available) suggested it was time to talk induction.
I knew it was coming. I just knew it in my gut. Still, it took some time to process and let go of that birth center birth we had imagined and planned for. Thankfully, the drive to the hospital we were using was a good 30 minutes. We had time to talk it out, remind each other that we were grateful for these options, and grieve. It may sound silly that it was something we had to grieve, but when you've worked so hard toward something and have to adjust your plans, there is a certain degree of loss.
We showed up at the hospital and got settled in a room. My midwives followed. Thankfully, they have a great relationship with the doctors, nurses, and staff at this particular hospital, so their roles didn't change much.
They started me off with a Foley Bulb aka a cervical balloon. And yes, it is just what it sounds like. Take a moment to think about that....
Ok, ready to move on? So, yes, the Foley bulb basically helps things get moving in the direction they should without the use of medication. I was going for a pain-med-free birth, and by golly, I was going to achieve it! The bulb was weird and awkward and was supposed to just fall out....supposed to...
Mine, of course, got stuck. So, THAT was fun.
Anyway, they got it out, no problem (this was the next morning, I believe). I guess I was I having contractions, but since I have really bad cramps monthly anyway, I didn't really know if they were real contractions or not.
In the morning, they started me on Pitocin. Pitocin is a synthetic version of oxytocin, which is the hormone your body produces which makes the uterus contract (labor). I wasn't thrilled to be needing it, but it was what it was.
They started me on it slowly and gradually bumped it up. By lunch time, the contractions were getting pretty difficult, but between contractions I was still laughing and making jokes (like popping up from behind the birth ball on the bed and making goofy faces for the camera).
But the laughter and jokes soon ended as contractions started piling up on top of one another. But, that's for another blog post ;)
It should be known up front that Miranda Lambert and I are BFFs....she just doesn't know it yet. Seriously though, I've been a HUGE fan of hers since right after she was on Nashville Star (I didn't know Nashville Star was even a thing until after she was on it). I have every one of her albums, including her self-titled album that she released when she was in the Texas Music scene. I've seen her live more than any other artist (and I have seen a LOT of live shows) and did a meet-and-greet a few years ago.
Anyway, I'm very opinionated country music (ie "bro country" is from the devil himself), especially about her work. Her music is incredible and she has this creativity and head for business that reminds me a lot of Dolly Parton (not that I really see Miranda doing movies or owning her own theme park, but they're smart ladies when it comes to their brand and their work). And obviously we're BFFs, so there's that. I remember watching the video of her and Blake singing a duet together before they even really knew each other and watched them fall in love right there on stage. That was all well and good until The Voice happened (and again, "bro country" is from the devil). But that's not really what this post is about.
When Platinum was released I was, of course, excited, but quickly disappointed. There were a few songs that were ok, but overall I felt like there wasn't much heart...like she was going through the motions and putting out a record out of obligation. For the first time for me, her music sounded more like a job than a passion. That's a hard thing to say about your favorite artist, but it's just my honest opinion.
So when her new album, The Weight of These Wings, was announced and her first single, Vice, was announced, I KNEW we were in for some magic.
She did NOT disappoint.
This (double) album is, by FAR, the very best work she's EVER put out. I read an article that said she wrote 72 songs for this project.
I don't think creative is a strong enough word. These songs, singularly and as a whole, are so creatively pieced. It's been a long time since I've had this feeling. The feeling only true and authentically soulful music can give a person. The best word I can come up with for this feeling is inspiration.
I used to work for a small radio promotions company in the Texas Music market and I absolutely LOVED my job. It really was a dream job, even though I was at the very bottom of the food chain. Then, I had my son in the spring of 2015 and by the end of the year I knew it I was spreading myself too thin. I wanted to give all my heart and energy into these artists that I believed in and cared so much for (and still do). They were, after all, my first children. But I knew that my son would never have another mother and he was and would always be my very first priority. Besides that, I was having issues with nursing that was causing me to get sick over and over, and anyone who has worked with radio knows, there are no sick days.
I simply couldn't keep doing both.
I don't think I necessarily stopped being inspired, but I wasn't writing anymore (songs or blogs) and I wasn't playing my guitar much (something I stopped doing when I got huge and pregnant and one reason I think I ended up having to be induced at 42.5 weeks...but that's another story for another time), and I certainly wasn't going to shows anymore.
Anyway, all that to say this...this album has stirred in me something I haven't felt in a long time. I can't even really describe it, but you know it when it hits you.
I've never been one to set goals for the new year. I'm more of a "by-the-seat-of-your-pants" kind of gal, but I may have a few in mind. The first one is to start writing more. Maybe that means more blogs or maybe it means giving songwriting another go, but either way I need to be writing more. And I want to learn more. Whether it's learning more about pregnancy and birth or about making music, I want to learn.
If you haven't been inspired in a while, go find some inspiration. Maybe it'll be this record. Maybe it's taking time to listen to a sermon or your favorite CD or discovering your new favorite artist through live music or writing or simply spending time outside. Maybe there's something else you love that you haven't done in a while.
Whatever it is, do it. Be inspired. Make this world a little better this week.
Have the nerve and use your heart.
What on God’s green earth does childbirth and country music have to do with each other?
What a ridiculously random and absurd pair!
I’m sure that’s what most people will think when they see this. And the truth is, they don’t really have a whole lot in common. From a songwriter’s perspective, however, each song they write is a child of theirs. Similar to birth, some songs flow effortlessly from the heart, through the pen, and to paper. Some take days or even years to finally come together. And while no birth has ever taken years, the hard work is still there.
There really is no rhyme or reason as to why I paired the two together in this blog other than they are my two passions. Many, many years ago, before I knew anything about The Grand Ole Opry, Johnny Cash, Ms. Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, or Hank Williams, I heard a song that changed everything. My parents are huge George Strait fans (who isn’t!?).
Whenever he released a new album it would sit there in the CD player of my mom’s car for months on end. I remember being no more than six years old when Blue Clear Sky was released and sitting in the back of my mom’s car listening to it over and over. The one song that drew me in, though, was I Can Still Make Cheyenne. I don't think I even understood what all the song was about, but I knew I felt an incredible saddness wash over me whenever it would play. I didn’t know music could hit you like that.
I guess I just never thought about making a career out of my love for music or maybe nobody told me you could even if you couldn’t sing or play an instrument. That’s probably for the best, though, because I probably would’ve bought a one-way ticket to Nashville, Tennessee the day after graduation and broke my mother’s heart. By the time I did figure it out, I was already in college and engaged to a man who is Texas born and raised.
Anyway, I ended up working for a small radio promotions company in the Texas country market, which opened me up to an entirely different world of country music. I knew who Pat Green, Robert Earl King, and Willie Nelson were, but I didn’t realize it was a different sub-genre. That job was amazing. I loved it. I got to recruit new artists who were just getting started. I got to sift through new songs and call people who shared my same love for music. It was a dream job!
Then, we had our son.
My eyes were once again opened to a whole new world.
It was a world of never-ending information. Birth videos that made you weep. Birth videos that make you cringe. All the while, learning things that just make you stand in awe of our Creator, Jesus Christ. And also, things that make you realize how badass women really are.
I’m a researcher. Some people are, some people aren’t. So, by the time we started taking our Birth Boot Camp class, I already knew most of the information. But what I didn’t know was that the spark had already been lit in me. I felt so empowered to give birth. It brought my husband and I so close, even before the birth of our son. I wanted everyone to feel this empowerment. And I very quickly realized how little couples our age knew about their options (or even that they had options!).
So, I applied, read a million books (just kidding, only half a million), watched documentaries, had the privilege of attending several births, and spent the better part of a year studying and making flashcards (that had people giving me the weirdest looks at Starbucks) so that I could become certified to teach childbirth classes.
I’m still very passionate about music, too. I no longer work at the radio promotions company, but that doesn’t mean I’ve dropped it completely. My mother says I’m part Michelle Duggar and part Miranda Lambert. The two make no sense together, but hey, that’s just me.
So will this blog be all about birth? No.
Will it be all about music? No.
Is it sure to be weird and sometimes awkward? Well, yeah, that’s life.
You just never know what you’re gonna get!
I love birth. And I love country music. No rhyme or reason. I'm not here to apologize for the seemingly opposite passions. All I know is I'm inspired by both and I've got some big dreams.