Breastfeeding Hurdles

Holy sweet mother. Just got nip bit the worst that I can remember 馃檧馃樀馃檧 It was totally accidental (she was already sleeping), but still. Oww!


Mika’s been sick this week and basically not at all interested in food (at least while I’m around) and also waking to nurse frequently during the night. During our month-long vacation, she was also asking to nurse a lot, during the day for comfort (new surroundings, Jetlag, etc.) and during the night because the kids bunked in with us, and I think that distracts her from sleeping.

So basically, I feel like I have been going above and beyond my regular milkmaid duties with my nearly 15 month old daughter in the last month and a half, and this bite (it still smarts!) has got me thinking; when, how and why will my daughter and I wean?

I have very little experience in the matter. With my son, the decision was made for us when he was 19 months when my milk went dry because I was pregnant. He was nursing twice daily at that point (in the morning and before bed) and didn’t seem to mind when my body decided for us that it was time for him to wean.

Philosophically, I am partial to child-initiated weaning. I believe strongly in the physical and mental health benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child, and neither of my children have had formula (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) However, when my daughter screeches like a banshee every time she sees me, and pounds my chest demanding milk, or throws all of the food off of her tray because she’s more interested in nursing, or wakes up consistently throughout the night for a series of midnight (+2am, +4:30am, +6am, +7:30am) snacks, my otherwise strong philosophical stance begins to wilt a bit.

Sometimes, I just want a little bit of alone time, if not actually alone, just not being touched/climbed on/pinched/groped etc. and it seems nearly impossible at this point.

I believe strongly that a nursing relationship, especially after the first six weeks and absolutely after the one year mark, needs to be mutually pleasurable. Not in every moment, not even every time, but generally. If mom is consistently resentful of and exhausted by nursing, that’s being passed on to baby, and it’s not good for anyone.

I don’t feel like I’m quite at that place yet, and admittedly, the last month and a half have been extraordinary, but I am starting to feel my breastfeeding determination and strength dwindle. All the while, Mika’s appetite for milk only seems to be on the rise.

Any positive advice, anecdotes or encouragement for a mama in need? I feel like this is just a hurdle, and I could use a little support in clearing it….



Another Birth, Another Story

How to begin? I feel like a second birth must be informed by the first (like any series of experiences in life, I suppose). As I prepared myself for this second birth, I could not help but compare to my experience with Aidan’s birth two years ago.

I was blessed with a truly wonderful labour and birth experience with my first child. A gentle planned home birth assisted by an amazing and experienced midwife. Everything went according to plan, and the labour itself was smooth, strong and totally empowering. I was so proud and grateful to have had my dream birth, and with my second pregnancy I knew I wanted to have this experience again.

In a lot of ways, my second labor聽ended up being very similar to the birth of Aidan, and of course different in others. As with my first labour, I was in the early stages of labor for a loooong time. Like five days long. The Monday of the week our daughter聽was born, I had a crazy night with lots of light, erratic contractions and the hormonal rushes that accompany early labor contractions. It was fabulous. The chemicals released by the body during this stage make you feel warm and euphoric and full of love. I don’t remember having such a strong impression of these hormonal sensations with Aidan, and I felt really grateful for such a pleasant signal that my baby was coming this time around.

I was sure that baby would be making her appearance. And soon thereafter… Nothing. No progression. No strengthening of contractions. No increased speed. Ok. Let the waiting game truly begin. The last week of any pregnancy is hard, even in the best of situations, and this pregnancy was no exception.

With Aidan, the last week involved a lot of anxiety; over when the labour would begin, over what it would be like. Over whether or not I would be up to the task of a completely natural, drug-free labor and birth at home. In the end, I succeeded and was given the strength and self-confidence to do it again with my second birth.

All of this positivity aside, by day three or four of light, inconsistent contractions, I was beginning to enter “mind fuck” zone. I was SO ready not to be pregnant anymore and ready to welcome baby into the world.

IMG_0384Thursday came around and by evening contractions were getting noticeably stronger and (a bit) closer together. Yotam cancelled his evening class, I baked the baby’s birthday cake and Saba Danny came and took Aidan for an overnight as I was sure baby was really on her way. We inflated the birth tub, prepped towels and by 11pm I decided to go to bed and take a rest before the real work began. I woke up at 6am feeling well-rested and quite disappointed. No baby, and light irregular contractions.

IMG_0396By Friday, I had decided to try and put the birth on my mental back burner and focus on the family birthday party we were hosting for Aidan. I cooked a lovely dinner, baked another birthday cake, cleaned our house and hosted a beautiful, intimate celebration of Aidan’s second year. Again come sundown (how do they know?!) contractions picked up, but I didn’t want to get too excited as I thought perhaps it would be an anticlimactic replay of the previous night. Having been in touch with Rozie our midwife all week, I again gave her an update by phone that things seemed to be picking up. By 10pm I was having about 8 light contractions per hour. By 11pm we called Danny to come and pick up Aidan again, as it did seem that baby was getting her move on. At around midnight, Rozie arrived of her own accord, saying that even if it wasn’t in full swing yet, when active labour started it would all go down quickly. She wanted to be in our home and ready when it did.

Upon her arrival, after Yotam helped her bring in her numerous bags and gear, she checked the fetal heart rate, and she asked me if I wanted her to check my progress. A dilemma. As any birthing mama knows, being checked “too early” can dampen morale and increase frustration when real dilation progress isn’t reported. I stalled a bit, but then agreed – 3cm, head low, good effacement. Not terrible, but not very inspiring either. You can labour for days at 3cm.

Rozie recommended Yotam and I go take a walk, that maybe it would help to move baby down, and to take my mind off things. Yotam and I walked around the kibbutz for about an hour, pausing for contractions, which were about medium intensity at this point. I had to concentrate on them, but they weren’t painful.

Upon our return, about 1:30am, I was feeling tired as was Yotam and we decided to retreat to the bedroom and rest. Rozie told me not to worry, that it would start when it would start and best to rest up before hand. I laid down and closed my eyes to rest, feeling disappointed, anxious and worried that it was just going to be another false start.

I can honestly say that the mental stress of this birth was its most challenging aspect. I had experienced birth before, so I knew I could handle contractions, I knew how to breath and open myself to the waves, knew how to focus and free my mind of all other elements once the time came. But the time Just. Wouldn’t. Come. In these few hours of the deep night I felt truly alone and comforted myself by visualizing my baby and asking her to please come soon.

And then she came.

At about 3:15am the contractions started to get noticeably stronger. I could no longer lay down and breath through them comfortably. I got up and put my birthing ball on the bed to have something to lean against as contra during the contractions. I continued laboring alone (Rozie was catching a few winks in the living room and Yotam was also asleep) until about 3:45am when I was sure things were picking up.

I woke up Yotam and went into the living room. Rozie had already woken and was waiting for me. I told her I thought the labour was really starting and she checked the fetal heart beat again. All good.

I brought the ball out to work against again (I LOVE my birth ball!) and asked Yotam for a wet cloth to wipe my face with between contractions. Rozie smiled when I began wiping my brow “Here we go!”

All the while I had been listening to my shanti labour music, and at this point Rozie asked if I’d like to hear something a bit different. I agreed and she played this amazing Zulu music which totally provided the right rhythm for me, and gave a positive focal point. A word to the wise; nothing, and I mean nothing can replace the wisdom of a trained, experienced midwife during labour and birth. Nothing.

After about 20 minutes I was ready to get into the birthing tub. It had been filled by Rozie during our walk and kept warm from pots of boiling water on the stove. With the addition of a kilo of salt, the buoyancy of the water was simply blissful to my birthing body. Instantly upon entering the water I felt soothed, supported and strengthen as I continued to labor.

My heavy contractions continued and I could tell I was getting close to transition. (SO nice to be able to anticipate it this time around!) Although, I kept thinking that the contractions weren’t strong enough and kept waiting for the really heavy ones to start. They never did. Perhaps it was the water, perhaps it was my mothers body, perhaps my experience from Aidan’s birth, but I never got to the really heavy contractions I remember from my first birth.

During transition, things got real serious real fast. Having been on my knees, head against the tub until now, I suddenly felt horribly uncomfortable and that I HAD to change positions. I yelled to Rozie “can I change positions!??” “Of course!” She said, and I flipped over to sit with my back against the pools wall. This was the one and only point during the birth I experienced fear, and therefore, pain. The sensations changed so quickly with the head descending that I felt it didn’t have the opportunity to adapt. I could feel her head coming down fast and didn’t know how to work with it. I felt myself reacting by trying to push away from the sensations. Needless to say, that didn’t work. Rozie, checks me, feels the head but says it’s not visible yet. She told me to breath and not to push, to let her come but slowly, so I wouldn’t tear. End contraction. Rozie tells me with the next contraction to make the sound of the letter “J” to ease baby down and not have my body just shoot her out. Contraction starts and I jjjjjjjjjjjjj聽like my life depended on it! Having something to do, to focus on was really helpful. Head comes down. Next contraction more J’ing and the crown of the head emerges followed by forehead, eyes, nose, mouth and chin. Whew. Head rotates in preparation for expulsion. “On the next contraction,” Rozie says “you’re going to push.” Contraction begin, I bear down and for the first and final time all at once, I push. Push, push, PUSH and out into the water, as if she is flying, shoots baby into Rozie’s waiting hands. Up out of the water and into mama’s arms. Wheeeew. It’s 5:05am. An hour and fifteen minutes of active labour and baby is with us.

She coughs and cries a little. Silence. “Blow on her face” says Rozie. Yotam and I blow, eyes open and real bellowing begins. My heart explodes with relief, happiness, hormones and love and I say to Yotam “I did it, I did it!”聽IMG_0403

We hang in the tub for about 15 minutes before making our way to the bedroom (stepping out of tub and walking with a wet baby and with umbilical cord/placenta still intact is no mean feat, I assure you). I lay back in the bed and baby immediately starts rooting. She latches on like a pro and suckles for 20 minutes. A breastfeeding champ from the get-go!

An hour or so after baby was born, Yotam cuts the umbilical cord, and takes baby so I can deliver the afterbirth, which is intact. No tears, no heavy bleeding. Again, experienced midwife. Nothing like it!

Baby is weighed (3.45kg) some food is consumed, a few parental phone calls are made to share the good news, and the three of us are tucked into bed to rest. Pure bliss.

IMG_0407This birth was a blessing, like any birth I think. It showed my how vulnerable I am, how strong I am and that trust in ones self and in ones body can achieve greatness. I know home birth isn’t for everyone, but it is the best option for me. When left to my own timing, and intuition and provided with the right support, I can birth gently and free (almost!) of fear with beautiful and empowering results. For this I am truly and eternally grateful.

Three days after giving birth, it is time to register baby and get her first doctors check up. We name her Mikaela (Mika) Victoria Beery. A big name for such a little girl, but I think she’ll grow into it.



IMG_0409 IMG_0408 IMG_20131111_205957 IMG_20131118_192827


Just angry

Please be forewarned that this post is a rant. A rant of epic proportions.

I live in the north of Israel. Much like in Canada (my motherland) in Israel universal health care is in place, and the level of treatment is generally quite high. This I glean from hearing about other people’s experiences. Thankfully I am healthy and only have to navigate the hell that is the health care “service” here infrequently.

Today I was supposed to have my first prenatal appointment with my new ob/gyn. My first women’s doctor for my last pregnancy is featured in the dicktionary next to the definition for “Asshole.” Never want to see that slimball again. Second doctor mysteriously went on sick leave never to return. Pity. She was great. Hope she’s ok. Third time’s a charm?

I am 17 weeks pregnant. I booked this appointment with lucky number three one month ago. I am not one for the medicalization of pregnancy and birth, but am also not out there on the frontiers of crunchy momdome, I felt like it was about time to see someone, and make sure everything is ticking away as it should. Two hours before my appointment, the doctors office called and cancelled. Bummer. Had to book this appointment a month in advance, and was really beginning to feel a bit anxious to check in and see that everything is alright, and they cancel. Awesome.

A little background on the lumbering dysfunctional mechanisms that comprise Clalit medical care. One has a health card and number, a user code and a password with which to book appointments online or through a central booking agency. There is little to no personal culpability. There is no calling the receptionist at your doctors office. Your doctor doesn’t even necessarily have an office. He/she travels from location to location, but you are encouraged not to visit them at more than one location for although all of your personal information and medical history is entered into the computer system, it is not centralized. So if you have your blood taken at one clinic but see your prenatal nurse at another location, she can’t access your results. How efficient. If you book an appointment online for, oh say a month from now because that’s the earliest appointment that exists, you can’t log back in and check for earlier appointments/cancellations until canceling your existing appointment. Getting Radiohead tickets is easier.

So back to the matter at hand.

Nearly in tears at having my long-awaited appointment cancelled, I ask the woman calling me what I am to do, explaining that I am in my second trimester and haven’t seen a doctor yet, and that through the system I can only book another appointment another moth in the future. Without. Word, she transfers me to someone else. “Shalom?” “Hello?” “Yes, I can hear you what can I do for you?” I don’t know?! No idea who I have been transferred to, what the story is here, I explain, from the beginning once again what my issue is, and she semi-resolves it by booking me an appointment for a week from now. Ok. Not bad. But there is the nagging concern that has been occupying a small corner of the back of my mind that even though I felt tons of movement previously, I have felt nothing for the past week and a half. Knowing that stress is one of the greatest problem makers in pregnancies and in life, I had kept this concern at bay with the resolution that I would be seeing he doctor. Today. But now I’m not. Now I have to wait another week. 18 weeks and no prenatal care. No movement. Starting to freak out a bit.

Decide to go and see another doctor closer to our home just to be sure that there is a heartbeat and movement. This little process involves it own lovely little set of acrobatics. If you don’t have an appointment (which I couldn’t have, not without canceling my re-appointment from above) you need to show up, ask the receptionist to see the nurse, wait for a long-ass time until the nurse shows up, decide by asking various strangers in the waiting room who happen to be in the vicinity of the nurses room if they are there to see the nurse too, so you know who you are to succeed, talk to the nurse, explain why you want to see the doctor, have her decide if your reason is valid, and then get referred back to the receptionist who will swipe your card, book you a same day appointment and then direct you to a machine where you use your card to access your appointment number. Then you wait until the doctor calls your number. Which doctor? Why Dr. Asshole of course! Which other doctor wouldn’t have ANY other appointments because he’s effectively made a name for himself as a prenatal terrorist?!

Ok. It’s ok. Deep breath. Just need to be sure baby has a pulse and I can leave. Enter. “Hello” “Didn’t you hear me call your number?” “Yes. Yes, I did.” Swipes card.


card across table. (Asshole!) Looks at me expectantly. Gulp. I explain why I have come. Who is my doctor? Where do I live? Have I moved? Why am I going to a doctor in a different region and not to him? Because I decided to?! “Yes.” “Fine, on the bed. There, you see?” Son screaming because he is old enough to know what happens at the doctors office, and he is afraid for himself, or for me, or for both. Thanks honey. I see a little blinking something on the fuzzy grey screen. “So, everything is ok?” “Well!” He is about to launch into a dramatic speech about how only rigorous prenatal testing, (which of course I have don’t none of because I am a bad person of faulty character) could possibly determine such a thing. I stop him before he get too excited about shutting my little plea for reassurance down. “There is a pulse?” I rephrase through clenched jaw. “You don’t see?!” Like its the most obvious fucking thing in the world. Like it would hurt to give someone a little sliver of calm or peace. He roughly pushes the monitor back, bumping the bed in the meantime. “Oh! I didn’t hit you, did I?” This creep clearly knows the difference between passive aggressive and just plain aggressive and on which side of that line the lawsuits begin to fall. “I’m fine.” Goes back to his desk. Look at him as he sits down. “Good luck” he says, completely deadpan. Thanks. Thanks a lot asshole.

I went in to seek a little bit of care and reassurance from a medical professional that my unborn baby is not in distress, and while I left with the information that he/she has a heartbeat, I also left in tears and in a state if heightened anxiety and very real anger.

Would it really hurt to build a little bit of personal responsibility and personal care into the health monolith? I am seriously considering suspending all prenatal care and just ‘going with God’ on this one because I cannot, will not, subject myself to that kind of inefficient, impersonal, impractical, rude, unprofessional and highly stressful “care” just because that is what is available. Fuck it.

Seriously longing for a state in which midwife prenatal care was even an option. Already have my beloved goddess of a mama midwife booked for the birth, but their care is private and only starts from week 36. What’s a woman to do?!

Comments, commiseration, and comfort most wholeheartedly welcomed.


The Weight Loss Roller Coaster… or is it a merry-go-round?

I have been meaning to post on this topic for some time now, but have found the hours I spend each day making lovey-eyes at my two-month-old getting in the way… funny that.

SO, here I am getting around to a topic that I hold very dear to my heart (and other body parts); postpartum weight loss! Yippee!

Basically, I consider myself to be a totally regular woman, with all of the regular struggles, triumphs, pitfalls, tears and joys that accompany weight and body image. While I am a dancer and fitness instructor by profession, I do not see myself as being any fitter than your average bear, especially not at the moment.

About two and a half months ago, I gave birth to my beautiful, healthy son. You can read more about that here, should you fancy. During the pregnancy, I really tried to eat moderately, and I continued dancing and teaching fitness until 38 weeks.

I did really well in terms of my weight gain until that 38-week mark. But once I stopped exercising BAM! I gained like 5 kg. (over 10 pounds) immediately. Granted, I lost 10 kg. within the first month after giving birth (the “easy 10” as I like to refer to it) but seeing as my goal had been not to gain more than 13 kg., the 20 that I ended up with when all was said and done was slightly vexing. But only slightly. You see, I’ve done this before and never with such a good excuse as pregnancy.

Chubby and in need of a change at 21

Minus 30 kg. at 22

Rewind about 7 years. I was 21 years old and in my third year of my bachelors degree at the University of Toronto. I had been gaining weight for about 5 years, but at this point was topping out somewhere dangerously close to the vicinity of 100 kg. Overeating caused by stress due to my parents divorce, my studies, my partners’ substance abuse and, well, just being a typical North American teenager, I fear, got me to that place. Enter break-up of my 4 year relationship. This really served as the lynch pin in inspiring me to get my act together and start prioritizing my health and get control of my weight. I changed my diet, starting gyming and running and within about 8 months lost 30 kg. It was like shedding an outer, useless shell of my old self and being reborn. It was amazing.

Fast forward about 4 years. The realization dawned on me that I had been slowly putting on weight again, kind of without realizing along the way. With wedding bells sounding in my not-too-distant future, I wanted to get back to my prime, strongest, healthiest (and, I’ll admit it, sexiest) self before the big walk down the aisle. Another 8 months give or take, and I lost another 10 kg. again through ruthlessly fine-tuning what entered my mouth (like to the point of entering everything into a calorie counter for a month and a half) and exercising like a demon, and realizing my love of running once again.

Peak of fitness at 27

Returning from our honeymoon, I weighed 73 kg., was 23% fat and 34% muscle. That was the fittest I have ever been in my adult life. I felt great. One week later, I got pregnant, thus bringing our little walk down my yo-yo weight-gain memory lane full circle.

One month after giving birth (what I consider to be my starting point this time around for measuring my progress) I weighed 85 kg., was 44% fat (!!) and 26% muscle. I started exercising lightly at 6 weeks postpartum, and in the last 2 weeks have kicked up it to about 5 hours a week of, what was for me pre-pregnancy, medium intensity exercise. Now it doesn’t feel so medium!

Me now... or shall I say us! 馃檪

My goal, which I now state before myself, the blogosphere and any gods that might be listening in, is to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight, at least close to the 26% fat mark (I think breastfeeding will impact this, thus I am giving myself a wee bit of leniency there) and to complete a half-marathon in ONE YEAR. Boom!

It likely won’t be easy, and there will doubtlessly be some tears along the way (“why? why is chocolate cake so damn good?!”) but having been around this way a few times before in my 28 years, I am confident that in the end, I will prevail. And the journey will probably be pretty fun too 馃檪