how exposed will my child be

Tonight my husband went on to facebook to update his status regarding our prenatal appointment this week. He realized his updates went to friends of friends and was peeved about this, he thought it was for friends only. He began poking around and noticed his images were public. This made him irate that their default was not some level of privacy. He is becoming very protective as a father and was upset that the ultrasound from week 8 was a public image on facebook.

You need to understand that my husband is one of the most transparent people I have ever met with his online dealings. When we first started dating I found out way too much about him and his internet life with one night of intense searching. Even now on twitter he tells people anything and everything. His followers may think it is part of his charm, I think it can be TMI a good deal of time but he does not give it a second thought.

I felt reassured to hear him be upset about any information about our child being out in the cyberworld unless he orchestrates it. I asked him when our baby is born if he will only go by an initial and only post photos I take of hands, feet, or action shots where the face is a blur. He is considering it.

I think making these decisions about how exposed a child will be are important. I know with my husband I sometimes catch myself censoring around him to make sure my words don’t end up in his twitter stream. A young child does not have that option. I also wonder what the future will hold and wonder if their classmates will be able to pull pictures of them playing in dirt when they are two. How will these images and words about them come back to haunt them as they grow up? Another thought is wondering if this exposure will be ethical. When children work in Hollywood there are strict laws regulating how often they are working, as blog subject matter they are never off the clock. It is just a world of hypotheticals we are exploring in my home right now.

It is a conversation my husband and I are glad to be engaged in. What about you? What compromises did you and your significant others make in this conversation?

my road to pregnancy

As my husband and I established our relationship we agreed to make a family with the criteria that we would not use artificial intervention if pregnancy did not work for us naturally. With these two criteria we researched and developed our preparation plan. I am writing this post to share some of our journey.

Over a year before we tried to conceive I read What to Eat Before, During, and After Pregnancy by Judith E. Brown.
Judith has impressive accolades to be considered an authority on this subject matter but respects the reader enough to cite a lot of sources through her chapters. I have a science-trained mind and I loved being able to access peer-reviewed literature and other established sources if I wanted more information on a topic. I need to revisit this book for the during and after aspect now but it helped a lot with the before, including what to look for in vitamins.

I was still not off of birth control as 2009 rolled around but had planned to give my body about six months off of them before trying to conceive. The next key book I read was Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough for EVERY WOMAN whether you are trying to get pregnant or you are planning to never have children. This is an empowering book that details the fertility awareness method and basically how our bodies work. Using basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and/or cervix position you can learn a lot about what is happening with your body. It is not the rhythm method that states that at day 14 all women ovulate, this is not true, this book teaches you to chart and interpret what is going on with your body. This book was especially humbling considering I taught Human Biology at a university and the syllabus-outlined section I did on female human reproduction paled in comparison to this book.

By late February of this year I decided it was time to go off the pill. The timing was perfect for me, I was one month into a 17-week level I yoga teacher training program. I had a great sense of body & mind awareness going on and was living really clean in terms of food and experiences. I went off the pill and made sure to be more consistent about taking my pre-natal, calcium citrate, complete EFA, and extra folic acid vitamins. We were going to start trying for a baby about six months after I went off birth control so this was time to get serious.

The third book I picked up was Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels.
I am not a regular viewer of The Biggest Loser and was not always enjoying some of the celebrity trainer personalty rhetoric that trickled through some chapters, but this is a fantastic book. If you have questions about your endocrine system and repairing it naturally but may not have the formal education about all the hormone components I highly recommend this book. I was reading it because I am considered technically overweight and was a little concerned about potential feedback loops being generated by excessive fat retaining an unbalanced proportion of estrogen in my body. I had not seen an endocrinologist and was never told by a medical pro to be concerned about this, but with the way my mind works I like to be cautious. I recommend this book for anyone trying to become pregnant, that could lose some weight, or is not able to maintain their weight as easily as they would like. Fit and trim Jillian chronicles how even she wrecked her endocrine system by eating non-natural, overly-processed foods.

Between late February and late August I took my vitamins and basal body temperature almost daily. My husband even read parts of Taking Charge of Your Fertility and would read my temperature while I kept my eyes closed in bed. I charted with then (as a beta tester for Mac platforms). We trended the high cervical mucus I had immediately (which is a great sign you could get pregnant) but we held off because my temperature showed my progesterone levels were not that high (which is a component to keep a viable embryo as it implants). As the progesterone went up, about three months later, my cervical mucus was dry. By the end of the six months I had healthy cervical mucus again and so much confidence in my high progesterone levels that we figured it was time to start trying to conceive. The basal body temperature charting was how I was able to track my progesterone.

During our six-month wait time my husband and I also altered our diet to be more alkaline, more balanced since many of us have non-neutral blood in our system as a result of the kind of modern diets we share. My husband also was taking a male potency vitamin in addition to extra folic acid.

Just before we tried to conceive I was also able to see an OB/GYN for a pre-conception check-up. Besides the regular check-up I also ordered standard work ups for diabetes and cholesterol just to be safe. I tried to see the doctor three months beforehand, but the practice I was joining was so busy I had a four-month wait. I feel like I got lucky on this point because we would have had to wait if there were any underlying medical conditions I was not aware of.

At the end of August I was busy with a multi-day prenatal yoga teaching certification and tried to rush home before I was out of my ovulation window, but we had just missed it. At the end of September we were starting a vacation towards the end of my ovulation window and figured we would have to wait another month before we gave it a solid try, but it worked with one attempt. We know how fortunate we are to have become pregnant within a month of first trying.

For us we were both healthy and my menstrual cycles were regular with ovulation at day 14 and a 12 day luteal phase. I am lucky to be this regular considering I was on birth control hormones for over a decade. My story is textbook ideal and not everyone has these fortunate results, that is a BIG reason why I recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility. As women we are told our bodies should be doing X, Y, and Z like all our bodies are the same but for women struggling with infertility this is obviously not the case. This book is amazing in helping to explain why sometimes our cycles do not work like clockwork.

I hope this post does not offend you if you have had issues with fertility. I am just sharing my experience with my road to fertility. My husband and I both did a lot of research and prep because we agreed to avoid the clomid and IVF route as a personal choice for us. Everything we did was in an earnest effort to up our probability of conception with no guarantee it would work out. I recommend these books in the hopes they are useful for someone, even if just as a jumping off point for further research.

Cultural Diversity and Midwifery

In the last few days I have been having a hard time articulating a thought I have had for a while. I have been trying to figure out my desire to at least have the option of a woman of color for a midwife. I wrote some of this inner dialogue down in a post from a few days ago:

The only thing missing is a woman of color, I wish I had the option of a woman who looked a little like me and maybe shared some of my life experiences. I did see one midwife who had a diverse practice so that put my mind at ease.

Even after I wrote it I couldn’t fully articulate why I was reluctant to automatically sign up with a Caucasian midwife. Then I was watching a birth story that night where a couple had a midwife and were doing a natural birth. Their birth story was calm, the husband chanted “om” in the corner while his wife quietly transitioned in the warm tub where she eventually delivered. The midwife was pleasant and sweet through their process.

Yet I watched this this birth and shook my head. I know myself too well. I am not the nicest person when I am uncomfortable. If I was in discomfort and my husband was calmly chanting in the corner I might snap at him. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks… cultural communication styles. I need a midwife who can handle me when I don’t communicate in calm tones.

I am mixed race. My mother is African-American and Native-American. My father is Central American. When I am excited or upset my communication style is most like my African-American relatives when they are excited and upset, and in my experience that can scare the crap out of Caucasian people. Take my white husband for example, he is a sweet guy from the Midwest who I get along with well. However we have had our share of learning to deal with each other over our years together. I still intimidate the hell out him if we are in a fight or if I get too excited about something. I temper my personality to an extent for him, but if I am going to try for a natural birth I know I will not temper anything, there will be no way I can pre-meditate my behavior.

So I gave my midwife a call last night to talk to her about this topic. I started by asking for her experience with diverse cultural communication. It turned out to be a brilliant conversation. She was honest that she doesn’t get a lot of practice because we live in a pretty lily-white community. Diversity is an initiative talked about with her professional midwife organizations because it is important for the reasons I called her. It is also important because people of different ethnicities have statistically different birth outcomes that midwives need to be aware of. I told about how I have to be hyper-aware of my communication in this community because of the subtle pervasive racism I experience here. She shared that she has a wealthy mixed-race friend that also goes through some f*cked up sh*t here as well that she has seen first-hand and understands why I would approach her with this topic.

Our solution is that this conversation is a gateway for me to let my guard down around her during our birth classes and prenatal appointments. We will honestly communicate with each other in hopes that it will lead to an optimal birth experience for me and learning experience for her.

I love the idea that I will be in a space where I won’t have to temper raising my voice, having a roto-neck, or talking expressively with my hands. These are stereotypes people may have about how African-Americans speak and they are not true for every African-American, but they are true for me when I am happy or upset. I am also loving how in this pregnancy I am dropping a lot of pretense about accommodating others and their comfort levels just because I am different. Hopefully I can grow up and be comfortable in my own skin when I am not surrounded by people that look like me before I become a mother. Learning this skill will serve my future parenting so much.