Thursday, July 31

Birth by the Numbers

A comment on one of the childbirth discussion boards I frequent got me thinking. A woman posted that of the 9 women who have given birth in her close circle of friends, 7 of them had c-sections. That's a lot! Nearly 78% in fact, more than twice the national average.

I started making a list of my own friends who have given birth recently. My statistics came out a little differently. Of those for whom I have such information, births among my real-life friends (23 total) look like this:
  • 1 cesarean birth = 4%
  • 22 vaginal births = 96%
  • 2 vaginal births after cesarean (vbacs) = 9%
  • 13 unmedicated births = 57%
  • 7 homebirths = 30%
Just for comparison, the national averages are:
  • cesarean births1 = 31%
  • vaginal births1 = 68%
  • vaginal births after cesarean1 = 1%
  • unmedicated births2 = 10%
  • homebirths3 = 1%

Apparently, I have an unusual circle of friends.
1. HCUP Facts and Figures Statistics on Hospital-Based Care in the United States, 2005 see Exhibit 3.3
2. Obstetric Anesthesia Workforce Survey: Twenty-year Update average of hospital figures, plus 1% out-of-hospital births
3. National Vital Statistics Reports Births: Final Data for 2005 (PDF) see page 18

Tuesday, July 29

Imelda I'm not

I was reading today about a new pumice sponge that you use in the shower to keep your feet soft and free of calluses. Can somebody explain this to me?

As I may have mentioned before, I've never been much of a girlie girl. I have, on the other hand, always loved going barefoot as late into the year as possible. For me, soft feet require shoes and socks. Blech.

Although I own several more pair, I really only wear two pair of shoes all year. In winter, I'm in my tennis shoes (though I may break down and actually buy some snow boots this year). In the summer, if I must wear shoes, I'm in my Tevas. But really, I prefer just the grass under my feet.

So, why exactly am I supposed to scrub extra hard to remove the calluses and make it easier for the prickly weeds to dig in?

Friday, July 25

Happy 200th

Welcome to my two-hundredth post!

(This is the part where the balloons would be dropping from the ceiling and everyone would start cranking up their noisemakers)

For my first hundred, I shared some of my favorites with all of you. Now it's your turn.

The prize is the same as last time: a free custom button or header graphic for use on your blog, website, or e-mail.

The rules are a little different: Rather than just leaving any old comment, I want to hear about your favorite post or quote or design from my blog. As before, you can gain an extra entry by linking here in a post of your own. Feel free to grab my website button if you want a more graphic representation.

You have until midnight on Thursday, July 31st to enter. I will draw one entry at random and the winner will be announced next Friday.

Wednesday, July 23

Works for Me: Hairspray

Hairspray, the new miracle drug ... well, not quite. But it is a handy little bottle to keep in the cupboard. Besides keeping your hair in place, a little hairspray can
  • Remove ink stains from fabric
    spritz a bit of extra-hold on the stain and scrub it away
  • Keep pencil drawings from smudging
    a light coat or two will keep your hard work from smearing
  • Preserve dried flowers
    keep the bugs away with a light spray (just watch out for lighted candles)
  • Asphyxiate ticks
    got this one from Dr. P during our last visit: get the bug nice and wet, then remove him with a tweezers when he pulls his little head out
Find more useful ideas at Rocks In My Dryer and check back here on Friday for a special giveaway!

Tuesday, July 22


I participate in a number of on-line discussion groups about childbirth. It has become something of a passion of mine. Most of these groups have some sort of loss forum, set aside to discuss and remember miscarriages, stillbirths, and other children who have passed on. I tend not to hang out in these areas very much, simply because it is heart wrenching. Once in a while, though, questions about miscarriage make it into the main discussions as well. A question was posted recently that I found quite intriguing.

A woman had experienced multiple miscarriages. One had been medically induced. She had experienced terrible pain on each occasion. Now, she is expecting again. She has made it through the treacherous first trimester and she is starting to think about her birthing options.

"What is the pain like?" she asked. "How does birth compare to miscarriage? Do I have any chance of having an unmedicated birth?"

It got me thinking. I've had one unmedicated birth and two early miscarriages. The first miscarriage, I hadn't realized was happening. The second, I was aware throughout.

In my experience, the biggest differences between the two have been time and attitude. Both miscarriages took several hours of sharp pain, but it was only the sharp pain I was aware of. My daughter's birth started out slowly, and more gently. The contractions got harder and stronger, and, yes, quite painful, but not until the end. In the case of the miscarriages, it was as if all I felt was the very end.

My focus was different in each case, as well. During the birth, I was focused on not being in pain anymore, but I was overwhelmed with the sense of giving birth to my child. I'd prepared for months. I'd gone to classes. This was it! I was scared, excited, and (I thought) ready.

During my first miscarriage, I hadn't known I was pregnant. I was expecting my period about that time and was surprised by the strength of the "menstrual cramps" that month. It wasn't until days later that I could look back and recognize what the intense pain had really been. Because of my ignorance, I did not have any emotions attached to the physical pain. It just hurt. I took some Excedrin and curled up in bed.

My second miscarriage came just days after a faintly positive pregnancy test. I was not terribly surprised. I'd been spotting even before I tested, so I knew already miscarriage was a distinct possibility. The physical pain was not as severe as the first time (I was only about half as far along), but emotionally, I knew I was losing my baby.

I try to imagine what it would be like to have experienced this all in reverse. To have only known the pain, but not the joy. I'm not sure I can. My heart goes out to the women for whom pain is their only experience, yet are trying again, believing, hoping in the joy they have yet to know. I wonder, if I'd only had the pain first, would I have the strength to hope?

Monday, July 21

Rainy Days and Mondays

They don't always get me down. In fact, when it's been 90+ degrees outside for the past several days, a bit of rain can be a very welcome thing. As for Mondays ... well, I have a little secret. Monday is "ladies night" around here.

Adam and I both belong to prayer groups. He meets with the boys on Wednesday nights and I meet with the girls on Mondays. My group recently celebrated our fifth anniversary of meeting weekly to pray for one another. In honor of this milestone, I designed and framed a print highlighting our years together and as a little reminder of why we do what we do.

The text is a little hard to read in this picture. Surrounding the numbers in each circle, I've counted down:
    5 years together
    4 friends joined*
    3 weddings celebrated
    2 babies born
    1 purpose
Along the right edge of the inner circle are our names and dates of the first prayer meeting and the fifth anniversary.

The words on the left are my paraphrase of the prayer passage in James 5:
    Is anyone suffering? Pray for her.
    Is anyone joyful? Sing praises.
    Is anyone sick? Call the church to pray.
    The prayers made in faith will heal the sick. If you have sinned, you will be forgiven.
    Pray for one another so you may be healed. Confess sins to each other.
    The prayer of a righteous woman is powerful and can accomplish much.
We haven't always met on Mondays. We used to meet on Tuesdays, then Thursdays, but when we've talked about it, the group consensus seemed to be that it's nice to start out the week with a fresh bath of prayer.

*In the way of being complete honesty, the four of us who are currently part of the group have not all been together five years. Three of us started out five years ago and we had a different fourth member for nearly a year and a half until she deserted us for a snazzy new job out of state (just kidding, my friend!). Our current fourth member joined us about a year later.

Saturday, July 19

American Idyll

My daughter is bouncing on the couch right now, singing to herself:

We singing glowy, glowy
He wanes, He wanes
We singing glowy, glowy
He wanes, He wanes

Newsboys ain't got nothing on her.

Friday, July 18

Q & A

I've been looking for something light to write so I wouldn't have to think very hard. I saw this on Lori's blog today and it seems to fit the bill.

7 Burning Questions

1. If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would it be and why?

Just one? Lately I've been craving pizza. Could I get different toppings? Maybe a dessert pizza with chocolate once in a while?

2. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

I've always wanted to be a tiger. They're so sleek and smooth and powerful.

3. If you could describe yourself using only three words, what words would you use?

Loyal, intelligent, fun (I'll have to ask Adam what he would say)

4. If you could be a super hero, who would you be and why?

Hmmm ... I don't know too many superheroes. Somebody who can fly, I guess. I always wanted to be able to fly.

5. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

I think I've become immune to embarrassment. It's probably a result of overexposure.

6. What is one of your biggest pet peeves and why?

I really can't stand spelling and grammatical errors. I don't like finding them in other people's work and I hate finding them in my own.

7. Out of red, green, blue, yellow and orange which one is your favorite color?

Depends on what I'm choosing. Probably blue or green overall.

If you chose red what is one of your favorite hobbies?
If you chose green what is your favorite place?
If you chose blue what is one favorite memory?
If you chose yellow what is your dream job?
If you chose orange it’s a wild card and you can tell us anything about yourself!

My favorite memory of my favorite place, huh? Well, it may not be my favorite place in the world, but it's definitely a good memory. I was visiting a friend in New Zealand (back when I was single and could afford to travel to exotic places). One afternoon, her family and I took a picnic out of the city to a nearby-ish beach for the afternoon. Karekare is the only black-sand beach I've ever been to. The sand is so dark and fine, it feels like walking through brownie batter. At one point, my friend and I walked to the edge of the water. Turning around, I could see our footprints, side by side. Someday, I'd like to take another walk along that beach.

Thursday, July 10

Lessons in Grace

Lately, I've been recognizing that I have a really bad memory. If I could, I'd trade it in for a newer model. I keep remembering all the things I should forget and forgetting all the things I should remember.

I forget the grace I've been shown, but I remember all the "rules" I learned as a kid.

I remember to try taking responsibility for everybody around me, but I forget to take responsibility for my self.

This week, I got a picture of something I don't want to forget. Let me offer a few words of back story:

I've spent several years engaged in a battle with God over why He allows bad stuff in the world. I've basically accused Him of being a bad Father, letting His children hurt one another so badly, kill one another, even, yet not getting involved.

Last week, Adam brought home the book The Shack. He spent two days reading a bit at a time. I'd heard the premise of the book--a man loses his daughter in the most horrible fashion, he is consumed with grief and a feeling of failure for not protecting her when it mattered most, he is invited to a meeting at the cabin where she was killed to meet with God. I had no interest in reading it. I can spin terrifying fantasies of what might be done to my daughter in this cold cruel world well enough without someone else's images to inform them.

After he finished the story, Adam stepped into the room where I was reading my light and fluffy novel, dropped the book beside me, and with tears in his voice, said I had to read it.

For the next several hours, I read it straight through. I didn't like it. I don't think it's the kind of book you "like" or "care for." I do recommend it, however, as it is thought provoking. Read it with some friends or your spouse and talk about it afterwards.

Unfortunately, the answers offered in the story as to why God allows pain and suffering really didn't allay the fears I had. The longer I've thought about it the more I still don't like it. Why should those who hate God be given the same grace that I get, when I'm trying my darnedest to love God? I know. He's God, so He can give grace to whomever He chooses. But don't I deserve ....

The other night, I was driving home from some time alone, thinking about my daughter. I don't want her to be hurt. I don't want to watch her be in pain, yet I know I can't avoid it. That's when I got the picture. I was seeing my daughter, all grown up into a beautiful woman. She was giving birth to her first child. She was in pain. I stood next to her, holding her hand, my arm around her shoulders, encouraging her, "You're doing great. I am so proud of you. You can do this!"

And I realized, this is how God views the pain in our lives. We live in a broken world; pain is inevitable. But He is there with us, holding our hands and encouraging us. He knows, in a way we cannot quite imagine, that this pain is temporary and will bring new life.

I want to remember this lesson always.