Friday, 25 March 2016

Welcome to our newest little Jansen!

He's here!

Johan Isaac Jansen made his glorious appearance just after midnight on the morning of Saturday the 26th of March
, weighing in at 3.56kg, my biggest baby yet!

Labour was quick and intense, starting with surges ten minutes apart for about an hour at 8pm on Friday evening, I took a bath to try make them go away, which usually worked in the past with annoying prodromal labour, but to no avail! 

Hello little one!
By the end it was so quick I couldn't even get up off all fours to get into the pool that was filled and waiting - further details will follow in a future post!

So dad got to do the baby catching and we jumped into the pool afterwards for some bonding time - it was so special! Little Jo (or Jo-Zac, or Hansie - we haven't picked a 'noemnaam' yet) latched like a pro and stayed that way for a number of hours. 

In a little whale nappy because
he was supposed to be born
in the water!
The big sisters said their sleepy hello's, and promptly passed out again.

I think he's been practicing!

As you can see, we're all resting well!

I am grateful to our midwife Arlen Ege for being wonderful as always, and to all the grannies and grandpas and extras who did their low flying to join us... it was such a peaceful birth, and so special to have such generous support.

Like I said, more details and pics to follow...

Monday, 21 March 2016

Durban Doula's Pregnancy Diary - Week 38

So yes, we did it, we fetched the birth pool...And no, we haven't had the opportunity to make use of it yet!

After last week's crazy times, things have definitely improved. For starters I went for a full body pregnancy massage with Alison Strauss here in Westville, Durban. It was so good to be able to lie on my belly and just be pampered for a bit! I loved that it felt like she was truly working tension out of my muscles, but didn't hurt me at all. Heavenly!

Birth pool in my car today...
We may struggle to fit three car chairs in,
but we can fit the birth pool with ease!
I know she also does fertility massage, inducement and postpartum massage too... I'm trusting I won't need the inducement version, but a postpartum massage sounds like it fits right in with my postpartum plans!

I think what got to me this last week was being confronted by all my 'deepnesses' - my innermost fears and weaknesses. I remember reading a book once where the author suggested that many women struggle simultaneously with being both 'too much' and 'not enough':

I know I’m not alone in the nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it - something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. - Stasi Eldredge

My younger daughter's contribution.
With a little (requested) help from mom.
For me the 'not enough's would be: not energetic enough, not consistent enough and not strong enough, among others, and my 'too much's would be: too passionate, too emotional, too deep, too sensitive, too intense, and for a touch of paradox, too strong...
(As you can see I struggle more with the 'too much's.)

It has been especially difficult to find that my 'too much's and 'not enough's have caused pain to those I love.

Something in me wants to say I don't need affirmation from anyone, that I'll decide which of my lacks and excesses to embrace or accept or change, but as much as I believe in autonomy and independence, I am also passionate (there's that passion again!) about interdependence and empathy.

I'm grateful for a wonderful husband who gives me space to feel all my feels - the highs and the lows, the poignant and the glorious - accepting that every emotion is valid as an expression of my experience, and when I am able to express them without judgement, I am also freed from having to defend them and hold onto them to prove how justified I am in feeling them.

Once all my turmoil is acknowledged and accepted, then I can start to see through the mist and perceive more accurately what is going on - which are my genuine lacks and excesses and which are merely a matter of perspective?

My eldest daughter's contribution
to my birth affirmation wall.
Something that also helped me this last week a mental image I had of myself in our swimming pool, holding onto the edge with both hands, as if about to start swimming backstroke. It was tiring and not fun at all, and I just pictured myself pushing off from the wall to float out into the middle of the pool - to surrender to the support of the water. I've never been able to float in 'real life' but my daughter explained to me that you 'make your light parts heavy, and your heavy parts light'. Sounds like good advice for life too.

The baby station - changing mat,
clothes, nappies and blankets
with socks, hats and little bits
in the hanging thingie.
Birth supplies, hospital bag
(just in case) and
baby bag on the floor.

The impending birth of a baby seems to bring out all these deepnesses quite relentlessly. Even my husband has been struggling this week with a sense of something prodding right at the heart of his own perceived and real weaknesses. We've been able to recognise it for what it is, and I've been able to hold space for him to feel and express, just as he has held that space for me. After all of this, I do feel somewhat more ready for this birth. About time too!

I'm officially on maternity leave now which is wonderful, although I do have one or two work things to finish up next week. I really loved having my mom here to help gather some last supplies and finish a few projects,  Previously when my mom-in-law was here we managed to make some king size linen - we hadn't been able to afford enough initially - and with my mom here we managed to make a ring sling and a 'donut' - a padded floor cushion for baby.

The quilt so far - just needs three more strips.
BonBon approves!
I also got some more shirts from the thrift shop to cut up for my bedroom rug, and got my sewing machine fixed so I can finish the quilt. I've made peace with the possibility that the quilt won't be done in time - but you can see the pic to see how far I've managed to get! I just need three more strips like those you can see and then I'll have enough.

Yup, that's me
with the hobbity
looking feet :-)
I also saw Arlen again this last week - when I went to go fetch the birth pool. It is always so good to see her and talk through options and ideas. That is one thing I love about midwifery care - appointments are long enough to build a relationship of sorts. She can become familiar with my priorities and strengths and weaknesses, which means that the care I receive depends as much on who I am as it does on numbers and the measurements related to this pregnancy and birth, rather than being predominantly 'numbers' based as I found with my first baby.

With a belly this size, everyone wants to know when I'm due - I just say I've a few more weeks to go. I keep it vague because people usually don't remember the exact date anyway, and I also want to maintain my own headspace of letting things happen as they happen.

Me and my girls...
I had a chance to meet with some ladies to chat about our upcoming births - including things we had struggled with previously, as well as our expectations and fears for the births and babies we are currently awaiting. It was great to meet with like minded ladies to share encouragement and be encouraged!

So the question on everyone's minds is, 'When will this baby come?' It would be nice if we knew, but it's also refreshing that this is one of those times where you just have to wait. At my last checkup baby hadn't engaged yet - perfectly normal and expected for subsequent pregnancies - but my belly has dropped a bit since, and I get the oddest 'burrowing' sensations in my pelvis, so in that sense things are moving on.

I'm also getting some reasonably strong Braxton-Hicks contractions through the day, and some that wake me in the night, but again, nothing concrete.

My second baby arrived at 38 weeks on the dot, after a week of prodromal labour, but my first came at just past 40 weeks, so really, who knows!

So yeah, we just have to wait and embrace the process!

Finally finished this one!
Make sure you are following me  on Facebook at Giving Birth Naturally
or on Twitter at @DurbanDoula so you don't miss any announcements!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Durban Doula's Pregnancy Diary Week 36

Crazy two weeks!

'While I breath I hope'
A little custom made pendant
I ordered from Tanja at Whatnots.
So glad I had it this week!
Thursday and Friday were utterly horrible days for me - big ugly crying in front of my eldest daughter's teacher, with youngest daughter in tow, after having her teacher tut-tutting and shaking her head at eldest daughter's being late again, bursting into fresh sobs while dropping youngest off after making her late by taking time to compose myself before going in, trying to get through the shop with bloodshot eyes and blotchy face, missing eldest one's race at the gala and sitting in the sun with swollen belly and ankles for two hours before realising it, and wading through puppy poo at home while trying to create some semblance of productivity. I was really struggling to maintain any sense of dignity, all the while fighting off a sense of terror as I wondered how I was going to manage with three. 

I'm not a person to wish days away, but by the time it got to Friday afternoon, I was shattered. I usually also detest complaining about the weather - but it has been so hot here the last few days, and I have really been struggling with not being able to keep cool - and I'm sure that didn't help my state of mind. Actually, I'm convinced that was part of the problem - the heat and sweat and stickiness, and construction happening at work and at home, along with a pack of puppies about to leave for their forever homes making a noise and leaving little gifts down the passage all seemed to contribute to total sensory overload. 

Quilt offcuts - my brain feels like this right now!
Furthermore, I have been experiencing the reality of pregnancy porridge brain - making totally random and utterly silly mistakes that I wouldn't usually make. I really felt that someone should just lock me away - preferably in a room with padded everything and Netflix and Magnum Chocolate Ice Cream - because the combination of absent mindedness and lack of patience just wasn't helping anyone.

I feel like the lack of patience and acute vulnerability is also partly because I'm dealing with some intense stuff inside - acknowledging this big transition about to take place, but leaving space for things to happen in their own time and in their own way - I've just felt somewhat emotionally depleted and where I would usually have a lot more patience with my girls, and a lot more empathy for people around me, I've just found I don't have the emotional resources for much more than self-preservation - which has made me even more grumpy as I don't see myself as an impatient person.

Blue fluffies for the baby!
Saturday was somewhat redeemed when my in-laws came over to help us with some DIY tasks around the house, and then of course there was my surprise baby shower. It was so lovely to see my circle of ladies and I was thoroughly spoiled. When I was sorting out some of the clothes we'd received with hubby later that evening, he was freaking out just a little bit as it seems to bring home the idea that there will be another little person to take care of soon.

I think the fact that we've had one or two (or three or four) large unexpected expenses combined with some financial setbacks in the last couple of weeks, as well as increased work pressure in some areas, might be weighing on him too, so we just keep reminding each other that everything is going to be OK.

Quilt sections ready for sewing...
If my overlocker hadn't given up the ghost I might finally be able to show you my finished bedspread, but it looks like I'm going to have to go manual on this one... Watch this space for next week though!

I think my in-laws could see I was quite tired on Saturday evening, so they took the girls to stay with them for two nights which was really great for us as it gave us a little down time after the hectic week we'd had. On Sunday afternoon, I managed to get the energy together to do a little retail therapy and get some bits and bobs that we still needed after the baby shower, as well as some supplies for our home birth - linen savers and the like. I used Sunday afternoon to sort out our 'baby station' - a wardrobe without doors in our room that will be a changing station and storage area for the baby - so I am feeling a bit more ready for things now.

Sneak peek from our maternity shoot with Sarah-Jane!
My gorgeous girls looking so angelic, even though the oldest had been
vomiting since the night before... Oh the joys!
So yeah, like I said, it's been a crazy couple of weeks - my inner introvert is making herself known, so I'm really looking forward to maternity leave... I'm trusting for an easier couple of weeks after a very vulnerable and emotional last two weeks.  Other than that, baby is fine! Growing and keeping me awake at night with his happy feet... What a privilege to grow a little life inside your own body! 
We're also hoping to do my belly cast this weekend, just hubby and I. Watch this space!

Friday, 4 March 2016

Durban Doula Pregnancy Diary Week 34

The weeks just seem to fly by!

I don't feel like there's much to report at this stage. even my weekly pregnancy update emails from BabyCentre seem to just tell me that baby is growing by half a block of butter a week - 230g to be precise. It's not quite as exciting as hearing that baby has just grown fingers, or baby can close his eyes, or that baby has a functioning four chamber heart, but good news nonetheless!

Having said that, we have finally decided on a name. We've had the basic idea in place for a while, and we're even expanding to include a second name - neither myself nor hubby have a second name, and neither do either of the girls, so it's something new for us. (English teachers are welcome to correct my 'neither-nor' grammar on that one if necessary!)

Like I mentioned in a previous post, we wanted reasonably old fashioned names with appropriate meanings, that could be easily pronounced in English and Afrikaans. So unless we get some writing on the wall, we've settled on a name, but we'll only announce the name once baby is born - so make sure you follow us on Twitter at @DurbanDoula or on Facebook at Giving Birth Naturally to keep up with any potential announcements!

Some wall decor I collected from the thrift shop
and some end-of-range specials.
Part of the birth photography prize I won a while back includes a mini maternity shoot - so I met with the photographer, Sarah-Jane from Sarah-Jane Photography, and we chatted about our various expectations for the birth, and ideas for the maternity shoot this coming week. I'm quite excited about it - it's amazing how each pregnancy and photographer and circumstance so far has resulted in two very different maternity shoots, so I can't wait to see how this one is going to turn out!

The nesting thing hasn't left me, I'm working furiously on my quilt that I started before I was even pregnant with my first. I was working on it when I went into labour with my second and I haven't done much on it since. We're not intending on having another baby, and as much as the pink duvet cover we've had since we were newly married has served us well, I think it's time for a change!

Besides that, I've been trying to cook up double and triple batches of dinner whenever I can, and freezing them for after the birth. To be honest though, we've already used a couple of them when I've had a particularly draining day - but I suppose that's what they are there for!

We have a local butchery that sells oxtail for a fraction of the price of the regular grocery stores, so I've been cooking up this most delicious recipe in my pressure cooker:

Slow Cooked Oxtail and Beans

I brown the meat first then add all the extras and pop it in our automatic pressure cooker for 90min, instead of the 10 hour cooking time recommended here. I also only add 1/3 of the water to the stock, and even that still feels like a little too much, so I have to cook some off, but it is truly delicious, and very nutritious! And it freezes well too!

Another recipe I've referred to before is my 24hour chicken soup recipe - actually I have two, this one:

The Healing Recipe - Chicken Soup

I use this one more often than the next one, just out of habit, and once I've taken the chicken bones out, I liquidise it with all the vegetables still in it, and my girls who are usually picky about vegetables absolutely love it - I can't seem to keep up! They call it swamp soup. (#momwin)

And this one:

Heal-all Chicken Soup Recipe

I love the lemony light flavour of this one but I've had problems with bitterness the last couple of times I've made it - but I think I'll give it another go. (Update: Got it right this time! Not sure what the difference was but it worked!)

With both of these soups, I try to keep portions in my freezer at all times, so that as soon as anyone reports feeling even mildly ill, I've got some ready to go. You can see why these chicken soup recipes are the obvious choice for postpartum healing too...

My other mainstay is a bolognaise sauce recipe that I learned from my mom, that she learned from my Italian godmother. I'm sure it's changed somewhat over the years, but I absolutely love it on some gluten free pasta, or in a gluten free lasagne (made with zucchini or aubergine layers instead of pasta), with a little parmesan cheese over the top it is super yum! Although, I am generally of the opinion  that many dishes are improved with a little parmesan cheese on top! I keep promising myself I'll write the recipe down, and when I do, you'll be the first to know.

I'm also researching some other postpartum healing and nourishing recipes, so if you have any good ones, or good sources, please do pass them on!

I'm actively trying to plan for a healthy babymoon period this time. I think many cases of postpartum depression, and postpartum fatigue, are the result of insufficient rest and recuperation after birth. I understand that in our current social climate, the option to have a good rest after birth is a massive privilege, but I feel it should really be part of basic healthcare because it can have such far reaching consequences.

In some cases I think it is mothers themselves who accept the pressure to act and appear as if they didn't just have a human being emerge from their bellies - because that is so often what people fixate on in the postpartum period - "Oh, you don't even look like you just had a baby!" comments abound, where magazine headlines point out the tiniest postpartum bump, or laud the mothers who lost their babyweight and were seen pumping weights at the gym within a week or two.

It's all part of a culture that often sees children as an inconvenience to be managed, rather than little people, and mothers as liabilities to the economy, rather than guardians of a future generation.

Well, where I can, I will start making that change in my own life. Having recovered from Adrenal Fatigue after my last pregnancy, I've learned the value of self-care.

So hubby and I have chatted about ways for me to stay in bed as much as possible in the first few weeks, even with two older children around to be fed and clothed and lifted to school and back. That will look different for each person, but for us that includes investing in a little more healthy convenience food than I would usually buy, and some quick trail mix type snacks for me, setting up a baby station in our room, and making use of herbal baths and herbal infusions on a regular basis. I'm also making sure to put up a school run schedule that another family member or friend could collect them if necessary, as well as a list of 'chores' aka service opportunities for any visitors...

Community makes all the difference!

Obviously the cooking ahead also helps, as does the fact that hubby is great at packing lunches and getting kids to school. Fortunately we do have some external help with laundry and cleaning, and a great family and church community around us that we can call on for help where needed. Hubby will be in charge of setting and enforcing visiting hours - even though we are having a homebirth, and perhaps especially because we are having a home birth. 

Maybe if moms and potential moms and their families see the benefits of an intentional babymoon, they may be inspired to make space for themselves and others to do likewise...
Many cultures around the world have mandatory periods of rest before and after birth where the new mother is fed special nourishing food, massaged and looked after, and her usual household duties are taken care of so she can save her energy and attention for herself and her baby. I think we could learn a lot!

Beyond that, shoelaces are evil. Catch you next time!